Chris Jones' holdout from Kansas City is unique in a number of ways.
Heading into Week 1 he's the only veteran player on the "Did Not Report" list in the league for reasons related to his contract in an era where the collective bargaining agreement makes it difficult for players to sit. Jones is also the first contract holdout of Andy Reid's 12-year tenure in Kansas City. And during Thursday night's loss to the Lions, Jones watched from an Arrowhead suite bracketed by his agents.
And, with each passing week of the holdout, the financial benefit to not accepting the offer on the table diminishes.
"At some point the math stops making sense," said one NFL team executive well-versed in the salary cap.
Jones in the final year of a four-year, $80 million contract he signed in 2020. He was due to make $19.5 million in 2023, though each missed game represents a lost game check. Missing Thursday night's game against the Lions cost Jones nearly $1.1 million.
On top of that, Jones was fined $50,000 each day he didn't report to training camp. In total he was fined nearly $2 million. Another NFL team executive pointed out that while the game checks are gross earnings that Jones is missing, the fines were all post-tax money and argued the true total of missed money was closer to $4 million plus each game check.
Sources have told CBS Sports since the start of training camp the Chiefs were poised to make Jones the second-highest-paid interior defensive lineman in NFL history. Several defensive tackles got new deals this summer, and Quinnen Williams earned a contract averaging $24 million from the New York Jets.
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All of these obviously fall short of Aaron Donald, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year who will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer five years after he retires. Donald signed a three-year contract worth $31.67 million per year in 2022, making him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history up until Wednesday when Nick Bosa surpassed him at $34 million per year.
Jones seeks an average annual value closer to Donald than simply above Williams. The Chiefs view Donald's contract more as an outlier rather than what's setting the market for interior defensive linemen, hence the impasse.
It's unclear how long Jones is willing to let this play out. He posted last month to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that he'd be willing to take this holdout until Week 8.
"How have I let them down?" Jones asked Kansas City reporters Wednesday. "It's just like when you're at your job, and you ask for an extension — you ask for a raise. You're not letting anyone down. Who are you letting down for asking your boss for a raise?
"So when you take the personal feelings out of it, you kind of get it. All I'm doing is asking for a raise."