KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Given another chance, Chris Jones acknowledged Wednesday that he would have changed the way he approached his holdout with the Kansas City Chiefs, which the All-Pro defensive tackle carried through the offseason, training camp and preseason right through their season-opening loss to the Detroit Lions.
Exactly how would he change it? Jones didn’t really say.
“When you have a lot of new guys, it’s kind of tough to be away, especially in the defensive line room,” said Jones, who was back at practice two days after agreeing to a reworked one-year deal that could amount to a raise if certain incentives are hit.
“These are the decisions you have to live with,” he continued. “I would change it, but I’m grateful for how it turned out.”
Chiefs coach Andy Reid said he expects Jones to be on the field in some capacity Sunday in Jacksonville.
“He’s an important part of it and you know, I’m glad he’s back. We’ll just see where he’s at physically as we go,” Reid said. “He normally keeps himself in pretty good shape. We’ll see how he does out there.”
At least he will be out there.
Jones spent the Chiefs’ opener against Detroit last Thursday watching from a suite — his suite.
It wasn’t exactly a view he enjoyed, either, as Kansas City stumbled to a 21-20 loss. Jones was powerless to help his teammates after they celebrated their latest Super Bowl triumph with a pregame banner-raising ceremony, and he mostly spent the game “biting my nails” and feeling like the other 80,000-some fans jammed into Arrowhead Stadium.
“It all felt crazy,” Jones said. “First time I ever sat in my suite. I see what I pay so much money for. Food was amazing. But it was a different viewpoint. I could see from a fan’s viewpoint how stressful it is.”
It’s been a stressful offseason for the Chiefs, who have been trying to reach an agreement with Jones on a long-term deal; he is finishing a four-year, $80 million pact.
But the sides were never close, and as negotiations dragged on, Jones racked up millions in fines for missing mandatory minicamp, training camp and the preseason. He also forfeited his Week 1 game check.
Jones said his reworked contract allows him to recoup the fines, but did not discuss the details of it. He also said that he would not continue negotiations during the season but was open to revisiting them once it is complete.
“I don’t want to go back and forth during the season,” Jones said. “My focus right now is being the best me I can be for this team; being the best player on this defense, the best player in the league. Anything less than that is a disappointment to myself.”
Jones also said he wasn’t necessarily trying to become the league’s highest-paid defensive tackle. That honor that currently belongs to the Rams’ Aaron Donald, who is playing on a three-year, $96 million contract.
“Not at all,” he said. “Is it important to be the best at my position? Absolutely.”
There’s an argument to be made that Jones was exactly that last season. He had 15 1/2 sacks to match the best season of his career, picked up his first postseason sacks and won his second Super Bowl ring in the past four years.
His ability to produce pressure from the interior of the line is unique, and it was sorely missing in the Chiefs’ loss to the Lions. They were already playing without defensive end Charles Omenihu, who is serving a six-game suspension handed down by the NFL, and wound up sacking Detroit’s Jared Goff just once.
Goes without saying that the group up front will need to do better against Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence on Sunday.
Just how much Jones will play in Jacksonville remains to be seen, but he was welcomed back Wednesday by a Kansas City locker room that consistently said throughout the offseason that it would stay out of his business.
“Happy to have him. Chris is not only a great player but a great person in the locker room,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “Always has a smile on his face. Like I said early in training camp, whenever he gets back here, we’re going to welcome him with open arms, and now we’re going to try to get out there and get a win.”
NOTES: TE Travis Kelce was back at practice after hyperextending his knee last week. He missed the game against Detroit but Reid was optimistic he will be available in Jacksonville. “It’s like Chris. They’re good football players. We welcome them back in and we go,” Reid said, “but on the other hand, I expect the other guys to step up and do the job.”