Before Friday, the Chiefs had $177 in cap space. Not $177,000. $177.
So it’s little surprise, as reported by Tom Pelissero of the NFL, that the Chiefs have yet to make an offer to franchise-tagged defensive lineman Chris Jones.
Cap space or not, there’s no reason to make an offer now. If the Chiefs were going to have an actual offseason program, the launch of the program in theory could become a quasi-deadline for doing a deal — but not the same kind of deadline it would have been for the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott, since it’s not easy to have a meaningful offseason program without a starting quarterback. So the real deadline for Jones and the Chiefs is the same deadline as it always is for every franchise-tagged player: July 15.
By rule, no franchise-tagged player can sign a long-term deal after July 15. So the Chiefs and Jones have time. And there’s no reason for either side to even begin to move toward their bottom line now, because the time for bottom lines doesn’t arrive for more than three months.
(That said, Cowboys defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence was able to create a rare exception to this standard last year by taking the position that he would not undergo shoulder surgery until he signed a long-term deal. The Cowboys got the deal done so that Lawrence would get the surgery done and be ready for camp.)
A long-term deal for Jones could actually reduce his $16 million cap charge for 2020, creating even more cap space for the Chiefs. This ultimately depends on the structure the Chiefs prefer to use; they may want to frontload Jones’ cap numbers and backload the cap charges on the looming contract for Patrick Mahomes.
Regardless, there’s no reason for the Chiefs to make Jones any offers at this point. Eventually, they will.
They have to. He’s the most important player on the team other than Mahomes, and Jones was as indispensable to the Super Bowl victory as Mahomes was, killing a key drive during Kansas City’s comeback by knocking down a pass on second down that would have resulted in at least a first down for the 49ers and by all appearances keeping quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from spotting an open receiver over the middle on the next play for fear of Jones knocking it down again.