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Let’s just agree the ramp up to their Super Bowl defense is not exactly going great for the Kansas City Chiefs, following news about defensive end Chris Jones and tight end Travis Kelce.
First, the Jones contract issue remains unsettled and Jones remains missing from the Chiefs roster with two days remaining before the team kicks off its season against the Detroit Lions. Then, on Tuesday, coach Andy Reid told reporters Kelce hyperextended a knee during practice.
The All Pro tight end’s status for the regular-season opener is uncertain, according to Reid.
“We’ll just see how he does going forward,” Reid said.
Chiefs Managing Possible Kelce, Jones Absence
Kelce was expected to have an MRI Tuesday afternoon, according to a source. That would confirm the extent of the damage to the tight end.
[Update: Test confirmed Kelce’s knee suffered no ligament tear damage so Kelce should eventually be available this season. The team is monitoring swelling.]
But fears are the Chiefs may be without their best pass-rusher and possibly best defensive player. And they could be without be their top pass-catcher and the favorite target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
The most stunning thing is Kelce’s injury happened on the team’s final day of preparation for the opener. Backup tight end Blake Bell told reporters the injury happened during a red zone drill.
Kelce, who scored 12 touchdowns last season to lead the team, is Kansas City’s best red zone threat. So an injury so late in the preparation process to a player so often vital to the team’s game plan is potentially devastating.
Chiefs coaches no doubt will spend Tuesday afternoon looking for possible adjustments to their plan.
Travis Kelce’s Best Case Scenario Not Good
Dr. David Chao, an OutKick contributor, was immediately not optimistic about Kelce’s chances of playing Thursday night. He called it a best-case scenario if Kelce has a bone bruise.
Chao sees Kelce as “doubtful at best” for the game.
There are obviously better ways to start the season.
Reid on Tuesday also reported “no progress” in negotiations to get Jones signed to a contract extension.
The All-Pro defensive tackle has missed all of the offseason, all of training camp, all of the preseason, and all of the preparation for the opener.
Jones is looking to become the highest-paid defensive player in the game, per an NFL source. He wants to be paid as much or more as Rams defensive end Aaron Donald.
That means Jones wants a contract extension worth as much or more than the $31.66 million annual average Donald gets from Los Angeles.
‘No Progress’ On Chris Jones Contract Talks
Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has said he’s “certainly hopeful” a deal gets done. But there have been times the sides haven’t been talking or making progress. And although talks resumed recently, the (lack of) progress part obviously is problematic.
And what’s one of the the problems for Kansas City?
Jones is vying for his third NFL contract. He has made approximately $66.5 million already, per overthecap.com. So he has the luxury of sitting out the start of the season and missing sizeable game checks, because he’s got a lot of money already.
Jones, in other words, can afford to wait for the right contract numbers to roll in. Unlike players negotiating their second deal, Jones has already had one big pay day to set him up for life. Now he’s simply looking for more — as the market dictates.
He certainly can afford to sit out and not get paid on his current deal until the eighth game of the season, by which time he must report to have the 2023 season count without allowing the contract to toll.
This is not speculation. Jones has made the point he can afford to sit out.
“I can afford it,” he has said on X, formerly known as Twitter.
So two issues for the Chiefs as their regular-season opener approaches. Both are huge. Both are painful in very separate ways.