At least one foundational piece of the Chiefs’ overhauled defense was absent from the first day of mandatory minicamp Tuesday.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones, who racked up 15 1/2 sacks last season, was not present for the first practice of the three-day minicamp. Jones also missed all of the Chiefs’ voluntary team activities this offseason.
Jones is expected to miss the entire minicamp, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.
By doing so, Jones is subject to escalating fines from the team.
For missing Day 1, the fine is $14,775. Missing Day 2 results in a $29,550 fine, and Day 3 will cost $44,325 — a grand total of $88,650 for missing all three days.
Jones is in the middle of contract extension negotiations that would prevent him from hitting the open market when his rookie deal is up next year.
If this is contract related, Jones would be the first Chiefs player absent from mandatory minicamp for that reason since safety Eric Berry in 2016.
Berry signed a one-year, $10.8 million franchise tag during training camp and signed a six-year deal after the season.
Outside linebacker Justin Houston held out in 2015 and eventually signed a six-year extension at the deadline.
In 2017, Berry, Houston and cornerback Marcus Peters missed OTAs but were back in time for minicamp.
At the NFL owners’ meetings in March, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said extension talks had started between the two sides.
“There’s a lot of time to go before the season starts, and he’s certainly a guy that we’ve targeted and would love to get done,” Veach said then. “The conversations have started.
“I wouldn’t say they are heating up at a rapid pace, but you’ve got to start somewhere. We’ve had two to three of these conversations and they’re getting better.”
Rapoport reported negotiations between the two sides had recently stalled and the team wouldn’t negotiate with Jones until he returns to Kansas City. Jones reportedly wants a new deal in the range of $20 million per year, according to Rapoport.
Though Jones is missing some coaching from the new regime led by defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, linebacker Anthony Hitchens wasn’t concerned with Jones’ ability to eventually catch up.
“He’s a smart guy and training camp is four or five weeks,” Hitchens said after Tuesday’s practice. “He should be able to get it down by then. But the guys that’s here, we’re going to keep building and become a better football team.”
At a Special Olympics event in late March, Jones expressed his desire to stay in Kansas City for the long haul.
“I’ve made myself at home, the fans have bought into me, the community has accepted me for who I am and I appreciate that,” Jones said then. “I want to spend the rest of my career here, if that’s possible.”