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Why Is Chiefs Star DT Chris Jones Playing In Season Finale Despite Chiefs Clinching Playoff Berth?

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The NFL regular season is nearing its season finale this Sunday, after 19 weeks of intense showdowns. Many teams including the 2023 Super Bowl winners- Kansas City Chiefs have secured the playoff berths. The focus of these teams is on managing player health and preparing them for the postseason, where each game is significant. However, the Chiefs still have their defensive star Chris Jones on the field, which has come as a surprise.

Reportedly, Jones who ended his holdout and agreed to a new one-year contract with the Chiefs, has an extra incentive to keep playing in the regular season. In addition to the $1 million promised for 35% playing time, Jones is set to receive $1.25 million for 10 sacks in the season. Five more sacks to his name will also allow him to make $500,000 on top of the promised $1.25 million.

As it currently stands, Jones is tied at the 20th position in the league, with 9.5 sacks, a touching distance to his 10 sack incentive. He is half a sack away from making an extra $1.25 million in trying to chase the Chargers quarterback Easton Stick. Apart from the incentives, Jones’ has similar contract terms as earlier with a $19.5 million base value with only incentives giving him the chance to earn more.

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The stakes are high with just half a sack left, but Jones remained out of practice due to groin spasms. Coach Andy Reid noted that it wasn’t a major issue, but his rest on Sunday got out of question. The defensive tackle is a relatively safe position as per NFL standards. Still, the injury risk hangs on Jones before the significant postseason appearance.

Others Riding the Incentive Train with Chris Jones

The Seahawks are currently one of the 11 contenders for five left playoff berths. Geno Smith has guided the team to one win more than in 2022, thanks to his staggering $105 million deal. Per his 3-year contract, he has a base salary of $1.2 million- fully guaranteed in 2023. He is now vying for a $2 million incentive. This is a conditional part, only due if Seattle has 10 wins or enters playoffs with 80 snaps from Smith. With only last week left, Smith has his bets on the five playoff berths that still lie in the waiting.

Riding on a similar train is Mayfield who found his home at Tampa Bay after quite the transitions. He is in line to take home $1 million in incentive if the Bucs win their divisional titles. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-8, 1st in NFC South) rule the standings in their division but stand tied with the New Orleans Saints (8-8, 1st in NFC South). The Bucs shall face the Carolina Panthers (2-14, 4th in NFC South) in an away game, with lower SoS Rankings. The Atlanta Falcons (7-9, 3rd in NFC South) who are appearing against the Saints in an away game appear to be more formidable with five extra wins than the Panthers.

Again, Jadeveon Clowney, the LB for the NFL’s top team Ravens has now sacked less than Chris Jones, standing at 8.5. However, he lacks half a sack like Jones, to take away an extra $750k in incentives. In contrast to Clowney or even Jones, the incentive numbers are more complex for Deandre Hopkins. The Titans WR stands at 1011 receiving yards, 68 receptions, and six touchdowns in the season. His contract guarantees a $750k incentive if he can secure 39 more yards, 7 receptions, and 2 touchdowns. His only chance left is to make the best use of the Titans’ last matchup against the Jaguars.

The postseason is right around the corner, with the fervor running higher than ever. The players also seem more resolved than ever to utilize the terms of their contracts. But again, all eyes are on salvaging what’s left of the season for an explosive postseason ahead.

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