The Kansas City Chiefs locked up one of the best young players in the NFL last week by signing defensive tackle Chris Jones to a contract extension that will keep the 26-year-old pass-rusher in the red and gold for the foreseeable future.
The news comes on the heels of quarterback Patrick Mahomes' contract extension two weeks ago, and with Jones now in the fold, the Chiefs have managed to retain 20 of 22 starters from last season's championship squad for the title-defense campaign.
It's a big deal, and understandably, Jones was pretty excited when he spoke with the media via web call on Monday morning.
"I want to give a thank you to the Hunt family and the Chiefs organization, also [President] Mark Donovan, [plus] the third floor and second floor group. [General Manager] Brett Veach, my dog. [Director of Football Administration] Brandt Tilis, the way he's structured everything and was able to make sure that they not only signed me, but signed Pat, [too]," Jones said. "I'm just so excited to spend the long-haul and the back end of my career with the Kansas City Chiefs - the organization that drafted me and took a chance [on me]. Thanks to [Director of College Scouting] Ryne Nutt, I can never forget Ryne Nutt for the chance that he took on me - a kid out of Mississippi State with ambitions and goals. I'm super ready to work. I always envisioned my career as being a Chief and thankfully I'm there for the long haul."
Jones is simply one of the top defensive players in the NFL, amassing the sixth-most sacks in the league since the beginning of the 2018 season and the third-most pressures among interior defensive linemen in that time.
Here are five things that stood out from his virtual presser, which also included Veach and Head Coach Andy Reid.
1. Jones may have earned his payday, but he's still hungry as ever.
"For me, nothing changes. It's all about being the best I can be. It's all about being the sack leader and winning Defensive Player of the Year. I'm always pushing myself to new heights," Jones explained. "It's just one of the check marks on my journey. This is not the end of my journey, but this is just the beginning. I'm thankful I'm able to stay with the Chiefs, build a dynasty and create something special, but for me, it's all about having a Hall of Fame career and getting a gold jacket. If somebody told me I could choose $20 million or 20 sacks, I'd choose the sacks every day. That's just where my mind is and where my heart is. Sacks, winning championship rings, having fun and enjoying the process. That's where I'm at right now. It's good to be financially stable to where I can give my kids and my family things that I wasn't fortunate enough to have when I was coming up, but for me, the game is bigger than just finances. It's my passion. It's what I love to do, and I want to get the gold jacket."
2. The idea of creating a dynasty has been a popular thought among the Chiefs' most prominent players lately, and as it turns out, Jones and Mahomes were texting about it over the last few weeks.
In fact, after Mahomes signed his extension earlier this month, the reigning Super Bowl MVP texted Jones saying he hoped the Pro Bowl defensive tackle's deal was next.
"For me, it was the understanding that me and Pat have. We want to create a dynasty in Kansas City," Jones said. "We both have the same goal: create a dynasty and build something special. In Kansas City, playing for Coach Reid and all of the talent that we have, we all have the same mindset. We want to keep this team together, so whatever we have to do to make sure that we stay together, then we should come together and do that."
3. Jones also took a moment to reflect on his journey to this moment and what it means to him.
As exciting as this news is for the Chiefs' on-field chances of another title, it's also important to remember that Jones' life – and the lives of his family's future generations - just changed forever.
"[I'm thinking about] the hard work that I actually put in to get here and where I'm at today. Actually, I'm thinking about sleeping on a two-seater couch. That's the first thing I did when I signed the deal, I called my grandmother and we actually talked about me sleeping on her living room couch," Jones said. "It was a two-seater from her living room and it was so old. We put it in her dining room and got a new living room set and that was my bed for the end of my junior year and my senior year of high school – I slept on a couch. So, we just talked and cried about it. When you go back and look at those times and reminisce, it makes you really grateful for this."
4. And while it certainly wasn't a simple task, Veach was determined to get this deal done.
"We certainly had some obstacles to overcome, [but] I wouldn't say we were surprised [we got it done] because we were driven and determined this whole time," Veach said. "At the Combine, I said that we were going to be at work and really lay our plan out, and our plan was to do a lot of the things that we've done this offseason. Right at the top of that list were Pat Mahomes and Chris Jones, and everyone knew that…You don't find these guys, you just don't draft them year-after-year. These guys come once every couple years - Chris is not a guy that you can just find in any draft – so when you have a player that talented and that special, you're driven and determined. I think it took longer than we anticipated just because of the unknown. So, I would say that we weren't surprised, because we were driven and determined to make sure that Chris Jones was a Kansas City Chief."
5. Veach's determination to re-sign players like Jones, even if he has to get creative, is what makes him one of the top executives in the NFL. It's a certain mindset that's unique in the game today, and it has impressed Reid.
"I think Brett has done a phenomenal job with it. I think you guys have gotten to know him and his relentless personality - nothing is impossible, everything is positive, let's explore and not be afraid to go there and say it can't be done and get it done. All of those things are how he operates," Reid said. "Again, it ends up being something that is contagious with people around him. Everyone feeds off of that energy and that's what has made this whole thing really possible. I think if you looked around the league, people are going to say, 'How in the world did they get this done?' Well, relationships, relentless work, planning in advance and not waiting for the moment to do it. He's been on top of this for a while. He got thrown this curveball with the pandemic, which is not a 'right now' thing. It is right now, but it's also something that affects the future. He's been relentless on finding a way to get it done where it's not going to kill you down the road with other deals. There have been a lot of hours that he's put into this and my hat goes off to him."
The Chiefs are gearing up to defend their Super Bowl title in 2020, and thanks to the hard work put in by Veach and his staff, the band is almost entirely back together for another run at a championship.