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Kansas City Chiefs top defender reportedly expected to leave in 2024 due to massive contract cost

The Kansas City Chiefs are on the doorstep of winning their third Super Bowl in the Patrick Mahomes era, cementing their status as one of the best NFL dynasties ever. However, returning to the Super Bowl next year could prove more challenging due to the team’s upcoming free agents.

While the Chiefs have one of the youngest defenses in the NFL, several key starters are eligible for free agency this offseason. Kansas City has the cap space to retain a few, but there appears to be a growing belief around the NFL that one of the team’s best players won’t be back in 2024.

  • Kansas City Chiefs free agents 2024: Chris Jones, L’Jarius Sneed, Drue Tranquill, Mike Edwards, Willie Gay Jr, Derrick Nnandi

According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, there is a very real possibility that All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones will play his final game in a Chiefs uniform in Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers.

Related: Kansas City Chiefs free agent targets 2024

Jones was in a contract year this season, even holding out through Week 1 with the hopes of securing a long-term deal. Instead, Kansas City structured his contract with incentive-laden bonuses, allowing him to earn millions of dollars if he reached certain statistical milestones and the Chiefs reached the Super Bowl.

While that got Jones back on the field and has played a critical part in them having one of the best NFL defenses in 2024, there’s another cost to it. Because Jones hit the majority of his contract incentives, his franchise tag number for 2024 will be $32.17 million.

  • Kansas City Chiefs cap space 2024: $24 million

For context, that would be a $32.17 million fully guaranteed salary next season that eats up $32 million of cap space for the Chiefs. Not only would it make Jones one of the highest-paid NFL players, but his salary would be nearly equivalent to what Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff ($33.5 million salary) makes.

Related: Kansas City Chiefs draft picks 2024

  • Chris Jones stats 2023: 29 QB hits, 13 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, 4 pass deflections

While Jones’ contract agreement in September with Kansas City didn’t include a clause that would block the Chiefs from placing the franchise tag on him, he put in incentives that significantly increased the cost of using the franchise tag. Because of it, Super Bowl LVIII might be the last time Jones takes the field for the Chiefs.

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