Although Chris Jones missed training camp and the first regular-season game, he didn’t miss a beat when he returned for Week Two.
In the Chiefs’ 17-9 win against the Jaguars, the defensive lineman played more than half of the 64 defensive snaps despite 87-degree Florida heat (and 68% humidity).
It was great to have Chris Jones back,” said Chiefs head coach Andy Reid. “He did a great job.”
Jones had 1.5 sacks, two quarterback hits, and a deflected pass as part of a defense that didn’t allow a touchdown.
That’s why I’m here,” Jones said. “When my number is called, I try to answer.”
In spite of Jones’ absence, the Chiefs moved him around, playing him on both the interior and defensive ends.
He made two of his best plays playing end on the left side against rookie right tackle Anton Harrison, who was drafted to replace Jawaan Taylor after the Chiefs signed him to a four-year, $80 million contract.
On 4th and 5 from the 45-yard line, the Jaguars went for it with a 3-0 lead.
Welcome back, Chris Jones 💪
— NFL (@NFL) September 17, 2023
After Jones’ 5-yard sack, the Chiefs scored a touchdown on their ensuing drive and never trailed again.
On 3rd and 14, Jones deflected a pass, and with 4:47 left in the game, he forced another half-sack by beating Harrison off the edge. As part of the Chiefs’ red-zone defense, he prevented the drive that reached the Chiefs’ 14-yard line, which sealed the game.
Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs quarterback, said, “The defense won that game.”
Jones is the best player on that defense, so he wanted a more lucrative contract than his current four-year, $80 million contract.
When the sides couldn’t reach terms, the Chiefs restructured his contract for the 2023 season so he could receive additional incentives, including $ 1 million for 35% playing time, $1 million for 50% playing time, $1.25 million for 10 sacks, $500,000 for 15 sacks, $1 million if he is selected as a first-team All-Pro and the Chiefs play in the Super Bowl, and $2 million if he wins the Defensive Player of the Year and the Chiefs win the Super Bowl.
ESPN reports that Jones did not receive a clause preventing a franchise tag, so he could receive that tender next offseason.
His base salary will remain $19.5 million – minus $1.08 million in lost game checks for Week One and $2.1 million in fines for training camp.
Football pundits believe Jones lost the negotiation by holding out after forfeiting that money without gaining a long-term contract.
However, he disagrees.
“I never complain when I get more money,” he said. “The Hunt family respects me enough to raise my salary a little bit so I can make a little more money this year.”
It appeared Jones was well on his way to hitting some of those incentives.
Jones impressed Reid at practice in the week leading up to his first game action.
Jones exceeded Reid’s expectations, but Reid was confident that Jones would do well.
The sweltering conditions make it all the more remarkable.
“I felt like I was back in Miami,” Jones said. “The heat didn’t bother me.”
During the offseason, he trained with trainer Pete Bommarito there.
In January’s divisional playoff game, the Chiefs beat their Florida foe, the Jaguars, for their eighth consecutive win.
In addition to celebrating Patrick Mahomes’ 28th birthday, it was also Jones’ triumphant return to the NFL.
Travis Kelce said he was “happy as hell” to have him back.
Kelce said, “He looked like the 9, 5 I know.”.