Press Box: Jones needs to be team player for Chiefs

In this Jan. 29 file photo, Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones comes onto the field during introductions before the AFC Championship Game against the Bengals at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. (Associated Press)

It’s time for Chris Jones to get to Kansas City.

After holding out since the start of Chiefs training camp, it’s likely the All-Pro defensive tackle will miss Kansas City’s season opener Thursday against the Detroit Lions, especially since he is currently on the reserve/did not report list.

Jones, one of the NFL’s top defensive linemen, is in the final year of a four-year, $80-million contract. Instead of reporting to training camp in July, Jones has been elsewhere, and as a result, has accumulated fines of $50,000 per day since then.

Jones is seeking a long-term contract extension from the Chiefs, reportedly asking for more than $30 million per season. When you’re among the best, you want the best money.

Aaron Donald has a three-year, $95-million contract with the Rams. Other linemen such as Daron Payne of the Commanders, Jeffrey Simmons of the Titans and Quinnen Williams of the Jets have contracts in excess of $90 million.

It’s not absurd for Jones to want that kind of money. It’s just a little absurd he wants it from the Chiefs.

My guess is Jones wants a deal now because when he enters free agency in the offseason, a $90-million contract may not be on the table for the 29-year-old, who was a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

You almost need an MBA to understand what goes into the NFL’s salary cap, so I’m not even going to try and explain it. But here’s what I do know: To give Jones $30 million a year, the Chiefs will have to cut several players.

Jones can point fingers at anyone he chooses for not having an extension in place, but I know who’s to blame: the NFL Players Association.

Within the past decade, we have seen quarterback salaries skyrocket, putting a smile on the face of the NFLPA. Patrick Mahomes is set to make nearly $40 million in 2023, and that doesn’t even put him in the category of the top-five paid quarterbacks in the league.

Mahomes’ salary accounts for 18 percent of the Chiefs’ cap. Add what Jones wants, and you have two players taking up one-third of the salary cap on a 53-man roster.

Because the NFLPA took care of the quarterbacks, that leaves less money for the other positions on a roster. Like I said, Jones needs to blame the NFLPA.

If anybody needs a salary bump, it’s tight end Travis Kelce, who is a first-ballot hall of famer and will make less than $15 million this season.

It would have been in the Chiefs’ best interest to work out a sign-and-trade deal for Jones, much like they did with Alex Smith and Tyreek Hill. But with four days until kickoff, it’s too late for that.

I wish I could sympathize with Jones, but there is no reserve clause in the NFL.

The Chiefs called your bluff. You lost. It happens.

It’s time for you to be a team player and report to Kansas City.