INDIANAPOLIS -- Defensive tackle Chris Jones might be the best defensive player available in free agency in March. The Chiefs are fighting desperately to prevent the 25-year-old menace from leaving Kansas City.

Jones was a 2016 second-round pick and had 20 quarterback hits and 9.0 sacks in 13 games this past season.

"It's certainly a priority for us," Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "I think the tandem of Chris Jones and Frank Clark is something any team would want. We're going to work hard to see if we can get that done."

Today isn't necessarily the issue for the Chiefs. But in the big picture, planning for tomorrow includes a new contract for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Speculation about Mahomes' value includes estimates for a record-shattering deal worth more than $40 million per year.

Chiefs president Clark Hunt said in February a deal with Mahomes would be an eventual priority, but it could come after the 2020 season. The other pressing deals for the current offseason include wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who will bring a $21 million cap hit this season. The Chiefs haven't decided on whether to pick up options on running back Damien Williams and linebacker Damien Wilson.

The queue begins with Jones.

"I understand the business and how it goes," Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said of keeping Jones. "I'd like to keep everybody together. That's not always possible. But sure, if he's here, he's a good football player. Why wouldn't I want him here?"

Using the franchise tag to keep Jones while listening to offers -- as the Seahawks did with Clark in 2019 -- could also help Kansas City's current and future outlook.

--By Jeff Reynolds, Field Level Media

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