Chiefs to tag Chris Jones, aim to sign him long term

The Chiefs are breaking out the big ticket for their big defender.

Kansas City will use the franchise tag on defensive lineman Chris Jones, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per sources informed of the Chiefs’ intentions.

"He’s been one of the top priorities for the Kansas City Chiefs. One of their best players on defense. When you look at the landscape, this is a guy they want to keep, they want to do a long-term deal, they weren’t able to do it before camp last year. We’ll see if they can get something done now," Rapoport said during an appearance on NFL Now Thursday.

The tag window officially opens Thursday, even with uncertainty looming as much of the league waits to see which tag rules they’ll be operating under this offseason. With a new collective bargaining agreement yet to be officially agreed upon, the old rules still apply, and the Chiefs are making it clear they’re going to tag someone they view as a key long-term piece, no matter what changes with the rules.

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Jones is precisely the type of player for whom the tag was designed (even if the players largely dislike the tag for financial reasons). A second-round pick in 2016, Jones has blossomed into a nightmare on the interior, recording 33 sacks since 2016, second only to Aaron Donald in that span of time.

It became apparent in 2018 he’d be due for a big-time contract when his rookie deal expired, thanks to a campaign in which Jones became one of just eight defensive tackles with 15-plus sacks in a season since 1982.

Jones wins with speed and power, with the former reaching rare levels. He posted the second-fastest get-off time in the entire league in 2019 (among interior defensive linemen with 250-plus pass rushes) with a time of 0.88 seconds. That’s a snap, a blink and a slow first step from Jones blowing right through the A or B gap to a sack, and the type of disruptive potential worth big money.

That type of uncommon ability is why tagging Jones is a no-brainer move for the Chiefs, who aren’t using the tag to keep Jones on a high-priced, prove-it deal, but to buy additional time to get a long-term contract done without the risk of losing him on the open market in March. If Jones ever got there, he’d be one of the first to receive a truckload of money from interested teams, even after missing four games in 2019 due to injury.

The Chiefs won’t have to worry about that, though, thanks to the tag. We’ll see how long it takes for general manager Brett Veach to sign Jones to the real payoff: a lucrative multi-year extension.

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