Once Patrick Mahomes became the starter in Kansas City in 2018, this team became an offensive juggernaut. Blessed with the best coach in the NFL today, Andy Reid, and his young gunslinger, jettisoned KC to the top of the NFL Power Rankings. With two Lombardi Trophies in hand, their third might depend on managing the outside distraction caused by the Chris Jones holdout.
I’m sure the Chiefs Kingdom is tired of talking about the Chris Jones saga. I know I am but here we are three days before kick-off, and this situation still lingers, bringing down some of the vibe surrounding the opener against the Detroit Lions.
I’ve been a long-standing fan of Chris Jones, but he’s either getting bad advice from his agents, the Katz Brothers, who have no other high-profile athletes in their portfolio, or Jones doesn’t understand the damage he’s doing to his tenure in Kansas City.
Regardless, if you believe the numbers Mike Florio at Pro Football Talk revealed Saturday, the staggering fines Jones has incurred to date, and the ones he might face if he holds out until week eight, completely wipe out the distance the two sides remain in contract talks.
In my view, the $10M difference in chasing Aaron Donald money, is moot at this point. Some of the fan base is turning on Jones. They understand the fines are eating up that gap. Even if Kansas City gives it to him (basically rewarding his holdout), the damage being done in the locker room isn’t one the Super Bowl Champions need.
For the Head Coach, you can tell he’s tired of talking about Jones, and you can also tell, he’s very unhappy with this star player.
On Saturday Reid said, “I don’t know what his agenda is or when he’s coming or not coming.” A day later, he followed it up with these comments, “I don’t know when he’s coming or not coming.”
As the Head Coach of the Super Bowl champions, Reid doesn’t need this drama before the opener on Thursday. Facing the Detroit Lions will be challenging enough but the center of conversation continues to be about Jones.
Listen, the Chiefs can win a Super Bowl without Jones. Yes, he’s the best interior defender in the game today, but his actions, and yes, I don’t really know his motivations at this stage because I failed my cryptic tweets 101 class, remain the biggest obstacle Kansas City faces this season.
The Chiefs are on the verge of a modern-day NFL dynasty. Players will come and go, but the self-inflicted wounds, being shown by the Jones saga, put the breaks on that hype. The Chiefs also share some of the blame for this mess. The fact, they didn’t have a better feel for the Katz Brothers stalling tactics, nor a true understanding of their demands financially until recently, counts as a miscalculation. Yet, it takes two sides to get a deal done.
With Jones’s absence, this creates a hole in the roster. Yet despite that omission, temporary or otherwise, this is the best overall team Kansas City has fielded in the Reid/Veach era.
So, with the Jones saga perhaps not ending for another two months, the pressure falls on some young defensive players, and the quarterback.
On his New Heights Podcast this week, Tight End Travis Kelce, pleaded with Jones to come back to the team. It was a calculated move that was honest and direct. Did Jones care?
Once that happened the contract numbers leaked by the Katz Brothers came to light. That gave the fan base hope this mess was about to end. However, that optimism is fading by the hour.
For Mahomes, he’s generally taken the high road. Back on August 23rd, he had this to say about the Jones holdout. “I know how much Chris loves the Chiefs. I just try to stay out of it and tell Chris I love him. We know he’s preparing himself. I don’t think anyone expected him to be out this long,”
Fast forward to September 2nd, Mahomes said, “At this point, you just prepare to play the game with the guys that are in the building,” Mahomes said.
However, when pressed by reporters, he took his message indirectly to Jones.
“I know how special it is here, and I know how special of a thing we’ve got going,” Mahomes said. “I stay out of contract stuff. But I know I’ve been lucky to be in this place, and I want to go out there and win as many championships as I can.”
Perhaps Jones feels the same way, or maybe he does not care about the dynasty or the place in NFL history he lands when his career is done.
At this stage, nobody knows the truth. It’s unfortunate that as fans we live and die by rumors, tweets, and innuendos from Jones for tidbits of the drama. It would be refreshing if someone was just honest and laid out the issues. It would be great if Jones stated his desire to remain a Chief, something he’s stated multiple times, versus comments like the ones he posted on Sunday.
For superstars like Mahomes and Kelce, they are not the highest-paid players at their positions. They’d rather save some of that money for other guys to balance out the 53-man roster. In the case of Jones, it’s clear to me, that money is the overriding factor at the center of his holdout.
Now maybe he’s reached out to them and explained his beef with the organization, but that doesn’t bring down the rain cloud hovering over this team three days before kick-off.
Still, I can’t make a single argument against any NFL player wanting to get paid top dollar. It’s not my body that I’m sacrificing. It’s a violent game that a single injury could derail a career. So I get why he wants financial security.
In the end though, regardless if Jones sees the big picture or not, he’s doing a disservice to his teammates who have banded together since the start of OTA’s to do something that hasn’t been done in decades, back-to-back Super Bowl wins.
Jones could end this drama now and still get what he wants from the Chiefs by showing up with his agents, sitting down in a room, and hammering out a deal while Jones runs out of the tunnel with his teammates Thursday night.
To make matters worse, if Jones is not on the sideline Thursday night, he’s likely crossed the point of no return within a portion of the Chiefs Kingdom, and worse yet, some players in the locker room. If he’s willing to go that far, but not do whatever it takes to be on the field with his teammates Thursday night, Veach might have no other choice but to trade Jones after week one.
There are still three days to get something done to avoid the ultimate distraction for this franchise that could end in a loss Thursday night without Jones on the sidelines.
Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. Because if it does, the Jones distraction only gets louder and louder for this team.