While the Kansas City Chiefs are expected to slap the franchise tag on Chris Jones, that doesn't mean it's a guarantee that he'll be playing with the team in 2020. Over the course of the winter, there have been numerous rumors about potential landing spots for the defensive lineman both in free agency and in trades.
When reports Kansas City was looking to put the franchise tag on him surfaced, some analysts believed it would be the end of relocation rumors. Now a new report indicates that the Arizona Cardinals could be a trading partner should the Chiefs want to free up some cap space.
NFL.com's Tom Pelissero posted a video on Twitter talking about three defensive stars who could be signed to one year deals and then traded by their respective teams. Pelissero believes there could be a budget crunch for Kansas City as they attempt to keep star quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This is the same budget crunch that could see the team cut wide receiver Sammy Watkins loose.
The Chiefs have been vocal about wanting to find a way to keep Jones for at least one more year, but the realities of the roster could undercut that. If the team does decide it needs to make a trade, in order to get something of value for Chris Jones, Jeremy Cluff of the Arizona Republic points out there's been speculation from different media outlets that the Cardinals could be a trade partner.
All of those outlets generally point to the same reason why the Cardinals could go after Jones if he's made available. The team is still rebuilding, but had more success in 2019 than some expected. They've got their quarterback of the present and future in Kyler Murray. What they don't have are numerous players on the defensive side of the ball that can change the game.
Jones is certainly a game-changer on defense. In 2018, he amassed 15.5 sacks to go along with 40 tackles. He didn't have that kind of impact in 2019, but he still managed to be a defensive lineman other teams had to focus on as he ended the season with nine sacks.
The biggest storyline last season for the Kansas City Chiefs was the improvement of their defense, and most analysts believe Jones played a big part in that improvement, even if his individual numbers didn't prove it.
The Cardinals ranked 24th in run defense and 31st in pass defense in 2019. They have the cap space to add Jones, even if he gets that monster franchise tag money. The question continues to be whether the Kansas City Chiefs can find a way to keep him.