Chris Jones has 'mix of emotions' about franchise tag

Kansas City defensive tackle Chris Jones, a vital cog in K.C.’s Super Bowl victory, heard NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport’s report that the Chiefs plan to franchise tag him if a long-term deal can’t get done before the March 12 deadline.

Jones, during an appearance on Fox Sports, said he’s not thrilled with the prospect but understands the business side of the tag.

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"It’s like a mix of emotions," he said, via Arrowhead Pride, "because you figure [that] after four years, [doing] everything the right way — within the team way — you try to stay under the line, out of trouble, and be a good citizen for the team and for the city. [Then] you expect to be rewarded. So when you’re hit with a franchise tag, it can go different ways. You can feel like they’re not valuing you — that they’re not valuing what you can bring to the table. Or you can look at it as giving them time to get their horses in a cage and get something together."

The 2020 franchise tag would pay Jones reportedly just north of $16 million — depending on where the figures come down, which is related to the collective bargaining agreement. He’d make loads more than that on the open market.

Jones had an otherworldly 2018 campaign, generating 15.5 sacks. While he couldn’t reach that outrageous figure in 2019, he proved it wasn’t a one-hit-wonder campaign. Jones compiled nine regular-season sacks in 13 games and was a key force in the Super Bowl victory, pushing the pocket regularly, disrupting plays by the handful.

Still just 25 years old, Jones deserves to be among the highest-paid defensive players in the NFL.

"It’s a little hard," Jones said of the tag. "It’s like, ‘What else y’all want me to do? I’ve got to go ahead and get 30 sacks — 35 sacks — to show y’all I can?’

"But the beautiful thing about the franchise tag [is] that it can go one of two ways. The team can either long-term you to have you for the future, or they can trade you. Either way, I’ll get paid benefits."

The franchise tag would keep Jones from getting long-term security in 2020. If a deal isn’t done by mid-July, another tag in 2021 is possible before K.C. is likely forced into letting the DT hit the open market the following year.

One issue for K.C. is they already have edge rusher Frank Clark signed to a $104 million contract. Jones should push for more than that in any long-term deal. Can the Chiefs manage two $100-plus million deals on the D-line while knowing they still need to make Patrick Mahomes the highest-paid QB?

Jones understands the tag means the Chiefs want him, even if the figures don’t work out for the long-term.

"It would be nice to stay in Kansas City and stay with Mahomes," he said. "What we’re building is exceptional. I feel like we’re building a dynasty. For Brett Veach, it’s about looking at the team, analyzing what you can lose – and what you have to keep."

Unless Veach trades Jones after franchising him, the DT will be in K.C. for at least one more year.

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