I know that isn’t a popular take, right up there with when I said the Chiefs shouldn’t resign Justin Houston or Eric Berry. I believe that if the Chiefs were to pay Jones the $20M per season he wants, they would never get the return on their investment. This isn’t about being a fan, or who the man is because it’s purely about business.
There is no argument that Jones is a great player and has earned a huge contract. He’s had 24.5 sacks over the last two seasons. His play against the run drastically improved this season turning him into one of the top three all-around defensive tackles in the league.
On top of being a great player, Jones is a fantastic guy. He’s a funny guy who is a fan favorite on and off the field. I am certain he would not be a player like Albert Haynesworth who would get his money and get lazy.
His only real weakness is his injury concern. No, he’s never had a significant injury, but he seems to have something nagging him every season. With a player his size doing the things he does, those nagging injuries are unlikely to ever go away.
If the Chiefs were to resign Jones, he would be a great player for them. The issue the Chiefs have is they can only afford so many great players. Patrick Mahomes is going to be making nearly $40 million per season very soon. Frank Clark is already making $20 million per season, Tyrann Mathieu is near $15 million per, and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are making respectable salaries for their position.
As a fan, we want to keep everyone we like, and the team could afford him. But I don’t think that is the smart move. The Chiefs need to look to the future and that means trading Jones. They can look to their own trade for Frank Clark last season as a good starting point. Clark was traded to the Chiefs from Seattle for a first and third-round pick in the 2019 draft and a second in the 2020 draft.
Jones is a year younger than Clark but has more injury history in a lesser valued position. I don’t know if they could get as much as Clark did, but I think they’d get close. I could see two to three picks including a first and $20 million in open cap space. After what Brett Veach did this past season, it’s exciting to think about what he could do with that kind of capital.
With Mahomes’ contract, the Chiefs need to maximize their salary cap. I think trading one great player at $20 million against the cap is not as good as the return you get from him. Two to three players on rookie contracts and two or three players for the same cost is more valuable to the franchise than one player. Dynasties aren’t made by keeping everyone you like no matter the cost. They are made by making tough decisions and always finding the next young group to keep things moving forward.