Chiefs Rumors

Chiefs’ Chris Jones Threatening Holdout?

On Tuesday night, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo estimated that Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones wouldn’t bite on an extension worth anything less than $20MM per year. Moments later, his gut feeling was confirmed by Jones himself.

Or I won’t play,” Jones tweeted. “[Le’Veon Bell] told me about this.”

Jones, of course, is referencing Bell’s messy final year with the Steelers. In 2018, the Steelers placed a second straight tag on Bell worth $14.5MM. Bell, meanwhile, wanted a long-term deal to reflect his combined value as an elite running back and a WR2 caliber receiver. When he didn’t get what he wanted, he held out for the entire season.

The following year, Bell got a five-year, $52.5MM deal from the Jets with $35MM guaranteed. It was a decent-sized deal for sure, but still shy of Bell’s original asking price and short of the throne for the league’s highest-paid RB mantle. Also, Bell lost out on a full year of salary.

If Jones stays away from the Chiefs and holds out during the regular season, he’d be losing more than $1MM per game. Still, the 25-year-old seems dead set on getting the deal he wants. Last year, Jones graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 7 ranked interior defensive lineman in the league and notched nine sacks. In 2018, when he saw more time on the edge, he registered 15.5 sacks. Jones understands his free market value and he says he won’t settle for less, or risk catastrophic injury in the interim.

Currently, the defensive tackle market is led by Aaron Donald ($22.5MM/year) and DeForest Buckner ($21MM/year). Meanwhile, Bears superstar Khalil Mack ($23MM AAV) leads all defensive players in average annual value.

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No Progress In Contract Talks Between Chiefs, Chris Jones

Contract negotiations between the Chiefs and star DT Chris Jones still haven’t gained much traction, per James Palmer of the NFL Network (video link). Jones, who is one of five franchise-tagged players yet to sign his franchise tender, did not participate in Kansas City’s virtual offseason program.

Jones was also pushing for a long-term deal last year, and he skipped the 2019 offseason program in an effort to make that happen, but he did not get his wish. Nothing of note transpired on the contract front throughout the 2019 campaign, and Jones was hit with the franchise tag in February. He expressed frustration with the process about a week later.

“It’s like a mix of emotions,” Jones said. “Because you figure, you know, after four years, you do everything the right way, within the team way, you try to stay under the line, out of trouble, and be a good citizen for a team and for the city, you expect to be rewarded. … It’s like, ‘Man, what else you want me to do?’”

Those comments were made before COVID-19 sent the entire country into lockdown, and the pandemic has brought already slow negotiations to a standstill. Nonetheless, the Chiefs have consistently maintained that they want to get a deal done with Jones, and Palmer reports that nothing has changed in that regard. The team has until July 15 to work out an extension, and it hopes to have a better idea of what the 2021 salary cap will look like prior to that date so it can make a well-informed decision on Jones.

In addition to the Jones talks, the team is also discussing what will surely be an otherworldly contract for QB Patrick Mahomes, but there is no imminent deadline on the Mahomes negotiations. Jones, whose franchise tender would pay him $16.1MM in 2020, has been pushing for a deal with an AAV of about $20MM, so even if the Chiefs do get a little clarity from the league before July 15, they will have a lot of work to do and not much time in which to do it.

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Five Franchise Tagged Players Have Yet To Sign Tenders

Teams have until July 15th to hammer out long-term deals with franchise tagged players. As of this writing, there are five players who have not signed their one-year tenders: Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, Broncos safety Justin Simmons, Buccaneers edge rusher Shaquil Barrett, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones, and Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue

[RELATED: Dak Prescott Still Wants Four-Year Deal; Cowboys Want Five-Year Deal]

The franchise tag is a sore spot for players, because it prohibits them from realizing their true value on the open market. Sometimes, players begrudgingly sign on the dotted line after skipping out on a portion of offseason activities. There have also been some notable holdouts to extend into the regular season – Le’Veon Bell, for example.

You can put Green in the former camp. The Bengals superstar wants long-term security from the only team he’s ever known, but he says he’ll sign the one-year tender if they can’t come to terms.

In the past, Simmons has indicated that he won’t skip Broncos activities, but Mike Klis of 9News speculates that agent Todd France could talk him into playing some hardball. Offers have been exchanged between the two sides, but, for now, the safety is looking at a one-year, $12.7MM proposition.

Jones – currently in line for a $16.1MM deal – has expressed frustration with the slow pace of negotiations with the Chiefs. The Chiefs, meanwhile, already have a $20MM defensive lineman in Frank Clark. Barrett, who said he’d be a good sport about signing the tender, says he’s expecting to have some movement by tomorrow, though it’s not clear if that means receiving an extension offer or putting pen to paper.

Ngakoue, of course, is prepared to go to war with the Jaguars. The two sides have been locked in a heated stalemate for a long time and the Jags say they won’t cave to the defensive end’s trade demand.

Chiefs, 49ers, Cowboys Among Teams On Jamal Adams’ Preferred Destination List

Jamal Adams has made an official trade request, and although the Jets have yet to grant it, the All-Pro safety has formed a list of teams he would be fine with joining.

Both of the Super Bowl LIV participants — the Chiefs and 49ers — headline the list. The Cowboys — who submitted an offer for Adams last October — are also included among a seven-team contingent that features the Ravens, Eagles, Texans and Seahawks, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

The Cowboys are the only team on this list that did not qualify for the playoffs last season. Adams, however, is a Texas native. Dallas offered a first-rounder and a Day 3 choice for the Jets standout last year.

As of now, the Jets are not prepared to trade Adams. But the safety may be more amenable to playing the fourth year of his rookie contract with one of the seven teams on this trade wish list than he is with the Jets, who have not made the playoffs since 2010.

The Jets are taking their time on extension talks for their top player, but with Adams signed through 2021 via the fifth-year option, that is not exactly uncommon. Teams often slow-play extensions for former first-rounders because of the option, but Adams is attempting to force the issue.

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Latest On Salary Cap Talks, Training Camp

As could be expected, the NFLPA appears to be in favor of alternatives that would not involve players reporting to training camps earlier than scheduled. Most teams are set to report July 28, but NFL-NFLPA joint committee on health and safety have recommended extending the five-day acclimation period — implemented in this year’s CBA — significantly. However, an NFLPA source informed SI.com’s Albert Breer the union “would have no interest” in a scenario that features an early reporting date to make up for so much offseason time being missed. Some teams are in favor of having players report either one or two weeks early, Breer adds, but the league office has pushed back on the notion it would want players back early. This comes on the heels of minicamps being canceled.

The NFL and NFLPA have been discussing training camp scenarios for weeks, and the sides will need to hammer out an agreement before players are allowed to return to team facilities. However, the players have not yet proposed a report date that would differ from their new July 28 ETA, per Breer.

Here is the latest coming out of the ongoing NFL-NFLPA talks and the state of training camps amid COVID-19:

  • Teams will be reporting to camp July 28, for the most part. But a few rosters will be back sooner. The Cowboys, Steelers, Chiefs and Texans will report earlier, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. The Cowboys and Steelers are scheduled to play in this year’s Hall of Fame Game and will be the guinea pigs in this new reality, reporting July 22. With Chiefs-Texans being this year’s regular-season opener, each team will report July 25. These uniform dates mark a slight change from previous years, when teams would gradually report in late July since they were required to report 15 days before their first preseason game.
  • A few numbers have been thrown out about how much a fan-less season would impact the league. The NFLPA’s latest estimate came in. Union executive director DeMaurice Smith said a season featuring games without fans would represent a loss greater than $3 billion, Breer tweets. An NFL.com report indicated losses could exceed $4 billion in this scenario, placing even greater importance on the league’s talks with the union regarding the navigation of the salary cap — which would be set for a significant reduction unless the parties come up with a solution.
  • Shortening this year’s preseason schedule continues to surface as a rumored option as well.

AFC West Notes: Chiefs, Mahomes, Raiders, Broncos

Patrick Mahomes could be the NFL’s first $200MM player if he takes full advantage of his leverage, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com writes. However, Corry suggests that the Chiefs star should be less fixated on that figure and more focused on a similarly lucrative three-year extension. With a shorter deal, the quarterback could land an even bigger payday, thanks to the expected rise in revenue from the addition of a 17th regular season game.

There’s also been lots of chatter about a clause in the later years of Mahomes’ deal that would tie his contract to the salary cap as it escalates. It doesn’t seem out of the question for the NFL’s brightest star, but Corry isn’t sure if the Chiefs will be willing to set a radically new precedent in the game.

The salary cap percentage clause would be a game-changer, but I’d imagine that it’s in the realm of possibility for Mahomes, especially after Kirk Cousins secured a fully-guaranteed deal with the Vikings.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • Raiders newcomer Nick Kwiatkoski will play middle linebacker in the Raiders 4-3 scheme, according to Scott Bair of NBC Sports. Kwiatkoski played on the inside of the Bears’ 3-4 layout and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther believes that he can be the team’s field general at the position. Kwiatkoski – signed for three years thanks to his $21MM deal – will be joined by fellow free agent addition Cory Littleton.
  • Raiders rookie Lynn Bowden Jr. had his home searched by the DEA this week, but his agency says that the running back was not arrested or charged afterwards (via Tashan Reed of The Athletic). Barring league discipline, the Raiders plan to open the year with Bowden as one of their supporting tailbacks behind starter Josh Jacobs. Devontae Booker, Jalen Richard, and Rod Smith are also on hand. On the field, Bowden has impressed – he ran for nearly 1,500 yards at Kentucky last year with an eye-popping average of 7.9 yards per carry.
  • After the departure of safety Will ParksBroncos defensive back Alijah Holder says he’s ready to step up for whatever role he’s assigned. “I’m a quick learner and wherever they put me, I’m going to learn the position,” Holder said (via Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post). “In dime, I feel I could take on that role. In practice last year, I played dime and nickel so I’m pretty familiar with most of the stuff. I really would love the chance to play dime if [defensive coordinator Vic Fangio] if goes that way.”

Chiefs Cut WR Felton Davis

The Chiefs have released wide receiver Felton Davis with a non-football injury designation, per the league’s official transactions page. The release will free up a spot on the roster for defensive back Andrew Soroh, who was re-signed on Friday.

[RELATED: Latest On Chiefs, Chris Jones]

Davis first joined the Chiefs last year as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State. Unfortunately, injuries have held him back in recent years and, if not for an Achilles tear in his senior year, he likely would have been drafted in 2019.

Davis put himself on the NFL’s radar with 55 catches for 776 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior, setting the table for an even stronger senior year. Davis saw the field for just six games and still managed a 31/474/4 line for the year. The athletic 6’4″ receiver was viewed as a high-upside UDFA pickup for KC at the time, but the injury bug reared its head again. In the team’s final preseason game, Davis suffered a shoulder injury, sending him to the injured reserve list.

His nature of his latest injury is unclear, but it sounds like it’ll be a while before Davis can pursue his next opportunity. The Chiefs, meanwhile, will have to evaluate other options behind wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus RobinsonByron PringleMaurice Ffrench, and Gehrig Dieter are among those battling for the final one or two spots in the group.

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Chiefs Re-Sign DB Andrew Soroh

Andrew Soroh will return to the Chiefs, according to agent David Canter (via Twitter). Soroh hinted at a new deal in late April, but it appears that talk might have been premature. Either way, the defensive back has himself a new deal for 2020 with KC.

[RELATED: Looking Back At Jeremy Maclin’s Release]

Soroh joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent last year, but he missed the final cut to the 53-man roster. After that, he moved on to the short-lived XFL 2.0, where he appeared in a handful of games for the New York Guardians.

Now, Soroh will push to make the team as a reserve behind starting safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill. His spot is far from guaranteed, but there could be an opportunity as Thornhill works his way back from offseason ACL surgery. It’s also worth noting that the Chiefs didn’t draft any safeties in April and seventh-round cornerback Thakarius Keyes represented their only pick for the secondary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Chiefs Release Jeremy Maclin

Three years ago today, the Chiefs shocked everyone with their release of Jeremy Maclin. Despite a down 2016, Maclin still profiled as one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL and was slated to enter the year as the Chiefs No. 1 wideout. Instead of waiting to see what the 29-year-old could do, they opted for more cap space and more targets for their younger receivers, including second-year pro Tyreek Hill.

At the time of his release, Maclin was not far removed from his 1,000+-yard 2015 season, or even his stellar 2014 with the Eagles, when he set a career high of 1,318 yards. His 2015 debut with Kansas City was, in some respects, even more impressive – Maclin caught 70.2% of his targets, easily topping his career 61.3% mark.

Still, the Chiefs saw an opportunity to save in an area where they already had a surplus of talent. Dropping Maclin saved the club $10MM in cap room with just $2.4MM left in dead money. The move made sense from a club perspective, but the timing was less-than-fair for the veteran.

Had he been released in March, Maclin would have had an opportunity to secure a solid multi-year payday. The league wasn’t all that juiced about the free agent WR market – Alshon Jeffery led the way with a one-year, $14MM deal and Terrelle Pryor settled for a one-year, $6MM deal, despite his camp’s best efforts to position him as an eight-figure salary player. In June, he was viewed as the bell of the ball, ahead of options including Anquan Boldin, Steve Johnson, Eddie Royal, and Marquess Wilson, but most of the money had dried up. He wound up signing with the Ravens on a two-year, $11MM deal.

Maclin never got the opportunity to justify his hefty five-year, $55MM pact in KC, and he clearly wasn’t the same player when he moved on to Baltimore. He finished out with just 40 catches for 440 yards for an average of eleven yards per grab – all career lows. Then, an injury wiped out his 2018 season. Last year, Maclin wasn’t able to scare up much interest as a free agent, prompting him to retire at the age of 30.

The decision to drop Maclin was puzzling at the time, but it’s hard to argue with the call in retrospect. Hill went on to have a breakout 2017 with 75 catches, 1,183 yards, and seven touchdowns. And, last season, their explosive offense propelled them to Super Bowl glory.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Chiefs, Chris Jones

While the Chiefs have begun negotiations with Patrick Mahomes, they are moving slower with their franchise-tagged player. Chris Jones and the Chiefs have not engaged in any extension talks since the Super Bowl champions used their tag in late February, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

Jones has not participated in the Chiefs’ virtual offseason program and has no plans to do so, Rapoport adds. The fifth-year defensive tackle has kept in touch since being tagged, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, but this is a slow-moving process (Twitter link). It is also in line with the slow pace of last year’s negotiations.

The former second-round pick skipped Kansas City’s 2019 offseason program, though he reported to training camp. But the sides did not make much progress last year, and Jones played out his rookie deal. He is now attached to a $16.1MM tag for a team that already has a $20MM-plus-AAV defensive lineman (Frank Clark) and has begun talks for what will almost certainly be a record-setting extension with Mahomes.

GM Brett Veach said in April the team would like to extend Jones, and franchise tag negotiations often move slowly due to the four-plus-month gap between the deadline to apply tags and the deadline to extend tagged players. Jones, understandably, is not exactly thrilled about his current arrangement.

It’s like a mix of emotions,” Jones said in March“Because you figure, you know, after four years, you do everything the right way, within the team way, you try to stay under the line, out of trouble, and be a good citizen for a team and for the city, you expect to be rewarded. … It’s like, ‘Man, what else you want me to do?’”

Last year, Jones sought a deal north of $20MM per year. The Chiefs wanted to keep the price tag below that number. With DeForest Buckner having now agreed to a $21MM-per-year with the Colts, Jones may have an even higher price floor. That will be difficult for the Chiefs to accommodate. Five teams are paying a pass rusher north of $20MM on average; none of them have another pass rusher more than $12MM per year. This will be a key situation to monitor through the July 15 deadline.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.