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Chiefs DT Chris Jones: ‘Super pleased’ with holdout, to be back despite no long-term deal

Chris Jones 2023 ends holdout
Posted at 1:41 PM, Sep 13, 2023

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chris Jones’ seven-month vacation officially ended Wednesday as he returned to Kansas City Chiefs practice.

As promised, his teammates welcomed him back with open arms.

“I’m happy to have him,” quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “Chris is not only a great player but a great person in the locker room and always has a smile on his face.”

He certainly was smiling Wednesday when he met with reporters before practice.

Jones, an All-Pro defensive tackle who’s led the Chiefs in sacks each of the last five seasons, skipped the team’s entire offseason program — including OTAs, mandatory minicamp and training camp — as he held out for a long-term contract.

Instead, Jones, who had one year remaining on the $80-million deal he signed before the 2020 season, signed a reworked one-year deal that offers him the chance to make up to an extra $5 million this season if the Chiefs repeat as Super Bowl champions and he wins NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Of course, he accrued almost $4 million in fines by skipping the offseason program, so he certainly has incentive to help Kansas City reach the NFL summit again.

“I’m super pleased with how it turned out,” Jones said. “I’m back in the building; I’m excited to be back. I’m thankful for the organization to be able to boost my salary up and make up for the fines and everything.”

Jones could make a little more money. He also could lose money if he falls short of 15 sacks, doesn’t win the league-wide award as the NFL’s top defensive player or if the Chiefs fall short of becoming the first repeat champions since the 2003-04 New England Patriots.

After the season, Jones and the Chiefs will be in the same position as they were last offseason — with Jones seeking a long-term deal and Kansas City, which could use the franchise tag to prevent him from reaching free agency, facing an uncertain future with one of its stars.

Rather than focus on the things his holdout failed to accomplish, Jones chose to focus on the positive Wednesday.

“It’s never disappointing when you’re able to get more money, right?” Jones said. “No, it’s not disappointing. It’s more of a respect thing. The Hunt family respected me enough to raise my salary up a little bit so I can make more money this year. Then, next year I can come back again.”

Jones reiterated that he stayed away from camp to avoid being a distraction and said he doesn’t plan to continue negotiations for a potential new deal during the season.

“Chris is a good football player, so on the back end he’s an important part of it and I’m glad he’s back,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We’ll just see where he’s at physically as we go. He normally keeps himself in pretty good shape; we’ll see how he does out there today.”

Reid said he expects Jones to play Sunday in a Week 2 matchup at Jacksonville.

“I’m going to see how he is today,” Reid said. “Presumably, he’ll be out there playing.”

Jones, who didn’t play in the season-opening loss to Detroit, said it was important for him to be in the building “to support my guys” and see the updated Super Bowl championship banner dropped last Thursday.

“It all felt crazy — first time I ever sat in my suite to see what I pay so much money for,” Jones said. “The food was great; the food was amazing. But it was a different viewpoint. I got to see it from a fans' point of view.”

Asked if it increased the urgency to rejoin the team, Jones said. “I’m here now.”

He admitted that he might change how he handled the offseason if he had to do over again, which he might have to next spring.

“I’d probably change some things,” Jones said. “When you have a lot of new guys, it’s kind of tough to be away, especially in the D-line room building that chemistry is important to be successful as a group. But those are decisions you have to live with. I would probably change it, but I’m grateful for how it turned out.”