Chiefs seeking to signal DT Chris Jones and DE Frank Clark to new offers

INDIANAPOLIS — With his shoulder pads and jersey nonetheless on, and a crisp new commemorative hat serving as a crown for a two-time Super Bowl champion, Chris Jones smiled for a number of minutes when he mentioned his feelings following the Chiefs’ comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles on the NFL’s grandest stage. Jones’ smile then transitioned to a critical facial features when he shared his greatest want for the Chiefs’ offseason.

“I definitely feel like we can be in position to compete again for another one,” Jones stated of the Chiefs’ probabilities to proceed their dynasty. “This is a special team. We keep this core together, keep Frank Clark, keep me and him together, I think we can be very, very special.”

Once once more, one of many main subplots for the Chiefs within the subsequent few weeks is whether or not they can retain their pass-rushing duo of Jones and Clark. Both gamers are on the Chiefs’ salary-cap sheet for the 2023 marketing campaign, however they’re within the last 12 months of their contract and have a cap variety of greater than $28 million, in response to Over The Cap.

During the Chiefs’ annual state-of-the-franchise occasion Tuesday, on the opening day of the league’s annual scouting mix, common supervisor Brett Veach acknowledged that one of the crucial advanced parts of the staff’s multifaceted offseason plan — which could be altered by a single transaction or commerce — is discovering one of the best path that results in signing Jones and Clark to new contracts whereas nonetheless having sufficient salary-cap flexibility to enhance different areas of the roster.

“The good thing for us is that we have these strong connections with these players that have played here a long time,” Veach stated Tuesday of Jones and Clark. “They love being here. That’s a good starting point for us. The bonds that we have with these players, and the fact that we have a long track record with them, helps us buy more time.”

And but, Veach stated the primary domino for the Chiefs to have a profitable spring doesn’t contain Jones or Clark.

Instead, Veach talked about star left sort out Orlando Brown Jr. The Chiefs have till 3 p.m. CT Tuesday to resolve whether or not they wish to place the franchise tag on Brown earlier than the league’s deadline. Such a transfer, although, would require the Chiefs to create salary-cap area. One of probably the most logical methods to attain such a activity is to launch Clark prior to three p.m. CT on March 15, the beginning of free company. Releasing Clark would create $21 million in salary-cap area whereas additionally taking a $7.6 million cap hit in lifeless cash, in response to Over The Cap.

If that chance turns into a actuality, Veach harassed that the Chiefs will probably be aggressive within the open market to re-sign Clark, the nine-year defensive finish who led the staff within the postseason with 2 1/2 sacks and 4 quarterback hits.

“We’ll probably, to a certain extent, need some cap space, but we have a long history with (Clark) and his agent (Erik Burkhardt), too,” Veach stated. “He’ll be one of the many conversations we have this week and look forward to getting with him and seeing if we can work something out that makes sense for both parties.”

As an eight-year veteran, Jones was the league’s greatest inside go rusher final season, producing 15 1/2 sacks and 29 quarterback hits, each numbers tying profession highs. He additionally performed 916 snaps — 80 % of the unit’s whole snaps — probably the most among the many Chiefs’ defensive linemen. Jones is the highest defender Veach needs to signal to a contract extension, a deal that can guarantee his providers all through the prime of his profession whereas creating extra salary-cap area for the staff.

Veach additionally feels an urgency to see if Jones is keen to barter and comply with a brand new contract earlier than free company begins. A 12 months in the past, Veach wished to perform an identical purpose with famous person receiver Tyreek Hill, who was additionally coming into the ultimate 12 months of his contract.

“I left here last year thinking we were going to get Tyreek’s (deal) redone,” Veach stated. “Things change quickly. The market usually dictates these things.”

Just forward of free company, the Chiefs supplied Hill, the league’s quickest participant, a profitable extension that may have made him one of many league’s highest-paid receivers, maybe as excessive as a top-five earner at his place. But Hill wished to be the NFL’s highest-paid receiver. The negotiation’s conclusion got here within the type of a blockbuster commerce, because the Miami Dolphins acquired Hill and signed him to the contract he wished. The deal’s alternate netted the Chiefs 5 draft picks, which Veach used to enhance and higher steadiness the staff’s roster.

This 12 months, Jones, in response to a league supply, needs an extension that can make him at the very least the second-highest participant at his place. In June, Aaron Donald, the Los Angeles Rams’ famous person defensive sort out, signed a three-year, $95 million contract restructure.

“We’ll certainly have conversations with Chris and his agents (Jason Katz and Michael Katz),” Veach stated. “Doing something with Chris would make sense for us, and I think Chris will want to stay here and retire a Chief.”

In addition to desirous to play his complete profession with the Chiefs, Jones understands {that a} doable extension — one that’s structured a sure means over three or 4 years — could possibly be a pivotal mechanism within the staff’s having sufficient salary-cap area to maintain Clark.

Superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes made an identical monetary resolution in July 2020, when he signed a 10-year, $477 million extension that might attain as a lot as $503 million by way of incentives, the most important contract in sports activities historical past on the time. With his extension beginning after the 2021 season, Mahomes gave the Chiefs the cap flexibility to signal Jones to a four-year, $80 million extension that might attain a most of $85 million by way of incentives simply earlier than the league’s deadline for franchise-tagged gamers.

“I want to keep really good football players around me,” Mahomes stated then. “It’s not about one person. It’s about the team.”

Following a disappointing 2021 season, Clark made the largest monetary sacrifice on the staff to remain on the roster. The staff might’ve launched Clark, which might have cleared $12.7 million. But Clark restructured his contract, decreasing his base wage to $3.7 million in a transfer that helped the Chiefs create $12.6 million in area. He agreed to the deal after having an end-of-season dialog with coach Andy Reid, who demanded that his veteran be a stronger chief to his teammates, one whose phrases matched his actions.

Clark responded by being a reliable participant in 15 regular-season video games then produced his greatest manufacturing through the Chiefs’ postseason run. Reid’s exit assembly with Clark final month, which centered on each males expressing gratitude to 1 one other, occurred on the identical day because the Chiefs’ celebratory parade with followers in Kansas City.

“I love Frank,” Reid stated Tuesday. “Frank is a top-notch guy. I love him to death.”

At halftime of Super Bowl LVII, the Chiefs entered their locker room after a lackluster first half that ended with them trailing the Eagles by 10 factors. Needing to regroup and refocus, Clark was one of many gamers, together with Mahomes and famous person tight finish Travis Kelce, who used his voice to encourage and encourage their teammates.

“I said this to Chris: ‘We’ve got to win this s—; we have to win this game,’” Clark stated after the sport. “This one just means way more to me because of the road here. I don’t care about the sack numbers, about being third all time in the playoffs. I don’t care about Playoff Frank. I just care about winning a Super Bowl and being the best teammate I can be.”

(Photo of Frank Clark and Chris Jones: Cooper Neill / Getty Images)

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