Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce is imploring fellow All-Pro Chris Jones to end his holdout, which the defensive tackle has carried through training camp and right into the preparations for the team’s opener next week against Detroit.
On his “New Heights” podcast with his brother, Kelce immediately contorted his face into a frown from his usual grin and took a desperate tone. Jones is entering the final year of his $80 million, four-year contract and has been looking for a long-term deal that would make him the second-highest paid defensive tackle in the league.
“Chris, you’re really scaring me, man,” Kelce said. “Can you please come back? I don’t get it. You must know something I don’t know because I just don’t get it. I really want to get another Super Bowl ring with you, brother. This is me bargaining with you to just come back and play football for the Chiefs.”
“Please, we need you. We need you bad.”
Kelce then clarified that he does not know any details about the negotiations between Jones’ camp and the team, as he stays out of contract talks that do not directly involve him. The two-time Super Bowl champion expressed his contentment with his own team-friendly contract earlier this offseason, saying he values winning more than trying to renegotiate his deal at this point.
After a long period of little communication between the Chiefs and Jones’ representatives, general manager Brett Veach said this week that talks had picked up. Veach even said he is “certainly hopeful” that Jones would report to the Chiefs in time to be available for Thursday’s opener against the Lions at Arrowhead Stadium.
Time is running out, though. The Chiefs’ coaching staff began game-week preparations Friday, and the bulk of their game plan will be introduced during practices Sunday and Monday before a lighter workout Tuesday.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid was asked Friday about Jones’ holdout and whether it could lead to locker room dissension.
“Listen, everybody makes their own decisions,” Reid replied. “That’s the way it is in life. That’s the way it is in football. Certain guys do it one way. Certain guys do it another way. Chris has chosen to go this route; some other guys have chosen to get their deals done and come in and play. I’m not here to criticize one way or another.”
The Chiefs could certainly use Jones on the field. The 29-year-old defensive tackle had 15.5 sacks for them last season to lead an otherwise modest pass rush, helping Kansas City win its second Vince Lombardi Trophy in the past four years.
“He’s the best defensive player in the league right now,” Kelce added. “He’s deserving of all the money in the world.”
Because he is under contract, Jones has been piling up millions in fines during his holdout. That includes $50,000 for each day he missed during a mandatory minicamp and training camp, bonus money and game checks of about $1.1 million apiece.
Asked by a fan on social media how long he was willing to hold out, Jones replied “Week 8,” which would be the latest he could arrive to earn an accrued season. When told that would be a hefty bill, Jones replied: “I can afford it.”
Jason Kelce, meanwhile, is hoping Jones can stay out even longer — until after the Chiefs face the Eagles in a Super Bowl LVII rematch in Week 10, which would allow the veteran Philadelphia center to avoid lining up opposite Jones.
“Chris, don’t let them do this to you,” Jason said jokingly, as Travis protested. “You need to hold strong, my man, for all the other defensive tackles in the NFL. … You must stay [out] through at least the Eagles game, then you can come back.
“I think that’s the appropriate timing.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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