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Chris Jones holdout: How we got here, what the future holds and what it means for Super Bowl champion Chiefs

The Dallas Cowboys All-Pro offensive guard Zack Martin, Pro Bowl running backs Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs, and 2022 All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones are just a few of the holdouts or potential holdout situations to watch across the NFL as training camps get underway.

The Chiefs defense, which is now defending its Super Bowl title, is led by 29-year-old defensive lineman. Jones is the only member of that side of the ball to be chosen for the Pro Bowl, as Kansas City's front office chose to center a young, inexpensive movement around him while spending money to support two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and his offense. Additionally, he only missed six games over the course of his seven-year NFL career (2016–2022) due to good health. The fact that Jones set career highs in sacks (15.5, tied for the fourth-most in the NFL in 2022) and quarterback pressures (77, fifth-most in the NFL in 2022) last season on the way to helping the Chiefs win their second Super Bowl in four years is more evidence of his improvement.

How did the situation develop to the point where Jones felt the need to hold out when he was giving the Chiefs defense a premium skill set, that of rushing the passer? Here is a look at how the market has shifted and where Jones' relationship with the Chiefs might go as he approaches his contract year.

How the market for defensive tackles changed
Chris Jones was paid at the top of his positional market when he signed his current contract, which will expire in 2023 after four years and $80 million. Along with three-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald (who was then signed to a six-year, $135 million contract) and All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner of the Indianapolis Colts (on a four-year, $84 million contract), Jones was one of only three defensive tackles with an average annual salary of at least $20 million in 2020 when his contract was signed.

Jones is now behind eight defensive tackles for the position's highest average annual compensation rather than just Donald and Buckner, who were ahead of him previously: Quinnen Williams of the Jets, a four-year, $96 million contract, Jeffrey Simmons of the Tennessee Titans, a four-year, $94 million contract, Dexter Lawrence of the Giants, a four-year, $90 million contract, Daron Payne of the Commanders, a four-year, $90 million contract, Javon Hargrave of the 49ers, a three-year, $63 million contract, and Buckner. The market worth for defensive tackles has unmistakably risen upward with five of those players signing contracts during the 2023 offseason.


Daniel Jack

For Daniel, journalism is a way of life. He lives and breathes art and anything even remotely related to it. Politics, Cinema, books, music, fashion are a part of his lifestyle.