The Kansas City Chiefs and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Chris Jones reportedly have begun contract discussions.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said Saturday that the two sides have "begun talking" ahead of Wednesday's contract deadline. If Jones and the Chiefs can't come to terms, he could play in 2020 under the franchise tag, which would pay him $16.1 million.
"I'm told the Chiefs and Jones have begun talking, which is a big victory because it's been quiet for months on that front," Fowler said on ESPN's SportsCenter. "They've really had no communication. They've at least started negotiating."
Jones, 26, has yet to sign the franchise tag and indicated earlier this month he could sit out the season.
On July 1, NFL Network reported it's unlikely Jones will receive the $20 million-per-year deal he seeks this offseason. He replied to a video the network posted, hinting that holding out into the regular season might be an option.
"Or I won't play. @LeVeonBell told me about this," Jones wrote.
Bell sat out the 2018 season with the Pittsburgh Steelers because he was resistant to the team applying the franchise tag for a second straight season, then signed with the New York Jets in free agency.
The Chiefs now can turn their attention to Jones after signing quarterback Patrick Mahomes to a landmark 10-year, $503 million contract extension on Monday.
"The Chiefs got the Patrick Mahomes deal done," Fowler said. "They'd like to move on to Jones, who is considered a top-three defensive tackle, but that's going to cost them well over $20 million. It's just unclear how far they're willing to go at this point, but they want to keep one of their best players."
Kansas City selected Jones, a Mississippi State product, with the No. 37 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. In four seasons, he's played in 61 games (41 starts), recording 33 sacks and 136 tackles. Almost half of those sacks -- 15.5 -- came in the 2018 season.
--Field Level Media