This is The Morning Win. Steven Ruiz is filling in for Andy Nesbitt today.
It took up until the final day before the deadline to extend franchise-tagged players, but the Chiefs finally got a deal done. Chris Jones will be staying in Kansas City for the foreseeable future after agreeing to a four-year, $80 million deal that puts him behind only Aaron Donald and DeForest Buckner on the list of the NFL's highest-paid defensive tackles.
My initial instinct was to criticize the deal. That's a lot of money for an interior defensive lineman, even one as good as Jones, and it will be awfully difficult — if not impossible — for him to play up to it. That, of course, matters because the NFL is salary cap league and the Chiefs have only so many dollars to spend on players. And with a small group of players taking up such a large portion of the cap — Jones, Mahomes, Tyreek Hill and Frank Clark have all inked big-money deals and Travis Kelce will get one next offseason — it's going to be difficult for this seemingly budding dynasty to keep things together.
So it's fair to ask, How will the Chiefs make it all work?
It takes about two seconds to come up with an answer to that question: Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid.
When you have a hall of fame coach who has had no problem evolving along with the sport and a generational quarterback who will only get better, the front office's margin for error grows exponentially. As long as those two are around, the Chiefs are going to be a good football team.
That's the difference between Kansas City and a team like the Rams, which took a similar approach to constructing its roster around a young quarterback. If Jared Goff was a quarterback worth whatever ridiculous sum of money he signed for last offseason — for my own sanity, I refuse to look it up — the story of the 2019 Rams would have been far different. But Goff has proven to be a middling quarterback incapable of elevating the players around him, so Los Angeles has felt the impact of extending a running back with an arthritic knee and giving a defensive tackle a nine-figure deal.
The only way this deal really hurts the Chiefs is if Jones declines significantly, but there's no reason to expect that to happen. He's just entering his prime and, since 2018, he's graded out as the NFL's best interior defender not named Aaron Donald, per Pro Football Focus. His 18.7% pass rush win rate ranks second behind Donald since 2018. If you're going to overpay a player, make sure it's a good one. Kansas City did that, at the very least.
You can apply this same analysis to the Chiefs' pick of RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the first round of the 2020 NFL draft. "Drafting a running back in the first round" is even higher on the list of analytical no-nos than "overpaying for pass rush." But Edwards-Helaire is basically guaranteed to be a productive player in Reid's scheme; so while drafting him was a poor use of resources, it's not going to manifest itself in an obvious (or even significant) way. Edwards-Helaire busting won't slow down this machine in the same way that overpaying for Jones won't.
I'm not saying general manager Brett Veach can do no wrong but it's going to take A LOT of incompetence for him to mess things up with Mahomes and Reid around. Giving an elite player too much money doesn't qualify as incompetence.
Wednesdays's Big Winner: Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson (Photo: Ken Blaze, USA TODAY Sports)
The Ravens quarterback was legitimately upset about his Madden rating this year, and the man has a point.
Quick hits: Prized Pulisic, Family Feud, the Bubble
– Chelsea's Olivier Giroud forcefully shoved away his Chelsea teammate in order to celebrate with the American wunderkind, Christian Pulisic.
– Bruce Smith explains what went wrong on his hilariously bad Family Feud answer.
– Jimmy Butler is already getting in trouble at the NBA bubble for dribbling a basketball in his hotel room.
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