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Chris Jones faces non-waivable daily fine of $50,000

Several years ago, the holdout gave way to the “hold in.” And for good reason. The 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement makes it much more expensive for players under contract to stay away from training camp until they get what they want.

Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones has dusted off the old-school way of getting more, despite the new-age costs associated with players under contract failing to show up for training camp. He’s staying away, and he’s apparently willing to pay.

Under Article 42, Section 1(b)(vi) of the 2020 CBA, Jones (as a player under his second contract with the Chiefs) faces a “mandatory fine of $50,000 per day.” And by “mandatory,” the NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed that it will be mandatory.

“For the avoidance of doubt, any such fines shall be mandatory, and shall not be reduced in amount or waived by the Club, in whole or in part, but must be paid by the player or deducted by the Club as provided in Section 5(b) of this Article,” the CBA states.

The daily $50,000 clock starts on the reporting date and continues until the Sunday immediately preceding the first game of the regular season. That’s six weeks. That’s $2.1 million.

Jones clearly doesn’t care. He’s trying to get the kind of payday over the next few years that will dwarf $2.1 million. And even though the Chiefs can no longer waive the fines (teams used to quietly do just that), Jones can ask for enough to cover the fines, on top of whatever he wants.

And so Jones opted to stay away in lieu of showing up and “holding in.” Although he would have avoided any and all fines, he would have lost the benefit of the leverage that comes from not being there. Once he’s there, it’s much harder to leave, given the terms of the CBA. Once he’s there, the Chiefs know they’ll eventually get him on the field, if a new deal isn’t worked out.

Finally, before Chiefs fans who don’t care about Jones’s effort to get fair treatment while he still has the skills to earn significant compensation and who are inclined to complain that he is violating his contract, remember that there are two contracts that apply to his employment. First, the contract between the player and the team. Second, the contract between all players and all teams. The latter gives Jones the right to stay away from training camp, if he’s willing to pay the price.

Thus, if Jones is willing to pay the price (or able to get the Chiefs to refund the price via a new deal), Jones can create leverage in a legitimate and proper way (unlike, say, faking an injury) by staying away until he gets what he deserves.

Not every player can pull something like this off. Jones, who clearly is trying to get closer to Aaron Donald’s $31.6 million annual average than the cluster of $22.5 million to $23.5 million deals done this year by players like Quinnen Williams, Jeffery Simmons, Dexter Lawrence, and Daron Payne, has the talent and the importance to the team to justify giving it a try.