Are Jaguars a realistic landing spot for All-Pro DT Chris Jones in free agency?

• SI thinks the Jaguars are apotential destination but DT Chris Jones.

• Jones will be one of the best players available in FA

• Could the Jags really pull it off?

Dec 10, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (95)
Dec 10, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (95) / Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams should never pass up the chance to acquire difference-makers, but it's fair to wonder if the Jacksonville Jaguars are a legitimate landing spot for defensive tackle Chris Jones. Do the Jags have a realistic chance to sign the five-time Pro Bowl nod? Matt Verderame of Sports Illustrated believes they can.

In light of free agency, Verderame put together a list of potential destinations for Jones in case he doesn't return to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Jaguars made the cut, and Verderame's reasoning is that he would be an ideal replacement for Josh Allen in case he doesn't return in 2024.

"Last season, Jacksonville ranked 25th in the NFL with 40 sacks. The Jaguars also have former Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton on their staff, with Sutton having coached Jones the first three seasons of his career.

The Jaguars should prioritize signing the younger Allen, but if the two sides don't get something done, there's reason to see Jones as a good fit in Duval County."

Jones is one of the best defensive tackles in the league. You could even argue that he's the non-Patrick Mahomes player who had the most impact during the Chiefs' Super Bowl run last year. Although he held out to start the 2023 season, he eventually returned, and went on to have a productive campaign, registering 10.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss.

While Jones has made it clear he wants to return to Kansas City after helping them win their third Super Bowl in five years, a deal isn't imminent. For this reason, there's been speculation he could join another team in free agency.

The Jaguars would have a hard time going after Chris Jones

Allen is coming off a banner year, setting a new team record for sacks in a season with 17.5. However, he wasn't nearly as consistent in previous seasons, which is why the Jaguars' brass has been hesitant to give him a top-market deal. Then again, they wanted him to play out his contract with the expectation that he was going to break out and he did. Jacksonville must fulfill their end of their bargain... and they are.

By the end of January, the Jaguars hadn't engaged in contract talks with Allen's representatives. However, things have taken a turn in recent weeks, with general manager Baalke meeting with his agent at the NFL Scouting Combine.

While there's a chance that the front office will need to use the franchise tag to prevent the former first-round pick from hitting the open market it's possible that they'll get a long-term deal done before free agency starts.

This is to say that the chances of Allen staying in Jacksonville are higher than 99.0 percent. And if the Jaguars give him an extension, going after Chris Jones in free agency wouldn't be feasible. For starters, it's not a given that he'll be available, and even if he is, his salary will exceed Jacksonville's spending budget. They currently have around $24 million in cap space and Jones will ask for at least $25 million annually. However you look at it, the math doesn't work out.

You could argue that the Jags could structure Jones' contract in a way that gives them a bit of flexibility in the early years of the deal. However, they'll need a considerable amount of space to keep their own players, including Calvin Ridley, and Trevor Lawrence (this year or the next).

The bottom line is that Chris Jones would be a great acquisition but the Jacksonville Jaguars are an unlikely destination when you take into account their salary cap and needs going into free agency.

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