INDIANAPOLIS — Brett Veach understands his duo’s value.
Even after a Super Bowl victory, the Chiefs general manager is still describing Kansas City’s AFC championship game loss last year as “an offsides away from going to the Super Bowl.” The Chiefs offense, led by then-league MVP Patrick Mahomes, was up for the challenge. The defense fell short.
The Chiefs’ decision to trade for defensive end Frank Clark, to complement homegrown defensive tackle Chris Jones, helped Kansas City close out playoff games this year en route to a Super Bowl.
Now, Jones—Kansas City’s 2016 second-round draft selection—has arrived at free agency. The Chiefs believe Mahomes and coach Andy Reid are capable of more than just one Super Bowl title.
They want Jones holding the defense to the same high standard.
“It’s certainly a priority for us,” Veach told reporters Tuesday afternoon from the NFL scouting combine. “I think the tandem of Chris Jones and Frank Clark is something any team would want. We’re going to work hard to see if we can get that done.”
Combine: Which NFL draft prospect will run fastest 40-yard dash time?
Super Bowl hangover?: 49ers trying to move on from loss to Chiefs
Jones and Clark terrorized quarterbacks in 2019. Only four teams allowed fewer yards per pass play than Kansas City’s 6.09. Jones notched 20 regular-season quarterback hits and nine sacks despite missing three games. Clark collected another eight sacks and 14 quarterback hits while playing 14 of 16. A calf injury kept Jones out of Kansas City’s divisional-round win over the Houston Texans.
In the Super Bowl, Jones deflected three of 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo’s passes
Now, Jones and the Chiefs must seek resolutions on negotiations they didn’t wrap last offseason.
“I understand the business and how it goes,” Reid said. “I’d like to keep everybody together. That’s not always possible. But sure, if he’s here, he’s a good football player. Why wouldn’t I want him here?”
The Chiefs and Jones’ representation were in dialogue through last offseason and preseason. Jones blocked out the conversation during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl season. But Veach is scheduled to meet with Jones’ agent, Jason Katz, in Indianapolis this week.
“All dialogue is good dialogue,” Veach said. “The last thing you want is for something to go awry because there just wasn’t enough communication.”
Veach will hold discussions with representatives for more than just Jones this week. He’ll meet with representation for receiver Sammy Watkins, who has one year left on his deal but is set to make $21 million against the cap. Conversations will continue with the camp for Mahomes, who is expected to sign a long-term extension this offseason. The Super Bowl MVP is under contract through 2020, with a fifth-year option available for the team to exercise. The Chiefs will also have to decide whether to pick up options on contracts for linebacker Damien Wilson and running back Damien Williams. Cornerback Bashaud Breeland is set to become a free agent.
The Super Bowl core cannot and will not stay fully intact.
“You win a Super Bowl, you obviously have a lot of good players and they make a lot of money,” Veach said. “Good problems to have.”
Clark is set to command $17 million in 2020. No player under contract for 2020 currently has a higher salary. Adding a high price tag for Jones will be “challenging,” Veach said. “But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”
These questions come with the Super Bowl territory.
“It was cool to win a Super Bowl, but we’re on”—Veach paused to snap his fingers—“already to the next season.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.
Source: Read Full Article