Wednesday was a monumental day for the Kansas City Chiefs, as they officially got defensive tackle Chris Jones back to practice after a lengthy and dramatic holdout process unfolded in recent months.
On Monday afternoon, news broke that Jones and Kansas City came to terms on a new one-year contract that allows the All-Pro to potentially earn back the money he’s lost this offseason via fines while also maximizing his earnings a bit beyond that with incentives. The Chiefs are using a temporary roster exemption to get their proverbial ducks in a row before reinstating Jones to the 53-man roster, but that highly-anticipated move is expected to come at some point before Sunday’s game. He’s back with the team right now.
Taking the podium on Wednesday morning, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid provided his immediate reaction to getting one of his best players back in the fold. No. 95 is expected to be in uniform and likely play some snaps in Week 2, and Reid says that workload will likely be determined in the next few days.
“Chris is a good football player,” Reid said. “So having him back in is an important part of it. We’re glad he’s back. We’ll just see where he’s at physically as we go; he normally keeps himself in pretty good shape. So we’ll see how he does out there today, take it day-by-day and just see how he does.”
Coming off the best season of his career, both Jones and the team were hoping to iron out a long-term contract extension during the spring and summer months. Once training camp and the preseason arrived and no deal was struck, however, the 29-year-old interior lineman still hadn’t reported to the team as fines continued to pile up. Jones attended the Chiefs’ season-opening game and banner ceremony against the Detroit Lions, although he watched from a suite while accompanied by his representatives at Katz Brothers Sports.
With Jones returning to Kansas City, Reid said he’s had a conversation with him and there was never a personal element to the holdout. Both Reid and Jones were able to keep the business side separate, and the Chiefs’ head coach believes his star d-tackle has a “good attitude” as the week of preparation continues. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes was also asked about how he feels about reuniting with Jones, sharing a very consistent message that jibes with what he’s uttered since earlier in the year.
“I’m happy to have him,” Mahomes said. “Chris is not only a great player, but a great person in the locker room and always has a smile on his face. Like I said early in training camp, whenever he gets back, we’re going to welcome him with open arms. Now, we’re going to try to go out there and find a way to get a win.”
After a bit of a delay, Jones also appeared in the media room and soon began responding to several questions in succession. When asked about his agency and whether he feels satisfied with them, he was straightforward and positive. Attempting to put a bow on his past month-plus and move forward as a member of the team again, Jones placed his focus on the latest task at hand.
“Absolutely,” Jones said. “I chose my representation years ago. I kind of made that decision not to come to camp. I didn’t want to be a distraction [from] holding in, and I’m super pleased with how it turned out. I’m back in the building, I’m excited to be back. Thankful for the organization, they were able to boost my salary up to make up for the fines and everything — I’m super grateful for that. We’re focused on winning the next game. We’ve got the Jacksonville Jaguars coming in, a very good team. Coming off a loss to the Detroit Lions, which is tough, but we’re looking for a bounce-back week.”