Chris Jones is widely considered the NFL’s top free agent in 2024. Both ESPN and Pro Football Focus have ranked the Kansas City Chiefs veteran defensive tackle as the No. 1 player set to hit the open market.

But that doesn’t mean the New England Patriots should make a high-priced run at Jones, who will try to win his third Super Bowl when the Chiefs face the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday.

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It’s nothing against Jones. A first-team All-Pro each of the last two seasons, Jones is arguably the best interior pass rusher in the game. And he’s shown the versatility to line up on the edge where his pass rush win rate jumps from 19.6% to 22.1%, per ESPN. His game-wrecking skillset is the biggest reason why Kansas City’s defense has been one of the best in 2023.

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However, the Patriots would be better off spending their abundance of cap space elsewhere.

First-year head coach Jerod Mayo has a ton of holes to fill after taking over for Bill Belichick. And the majority of resources — draft picks, free-agency dollars — should be used on the offensive side of the ball. The Patriots have glaring needs at quarterback, offensive tackle and wide receiver, arguably the three most premium positions. They should try to address those in the NFL draft, but it’s not certain they’ll be able to address all of them. Who knows how the draft board will shake out, too. Perhaps New England can’t pass up a steal at a position of strength.

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In addition to offensive-driven reasoning, there’s also the fact New England’s defense is in good hands at the position. Christian Barmore, who formed a relationship with Jones, is coming off a dynamite third season in New England. The 24-year-old Barmore enters his final season under contract, and the Patriots would be wise to re-sign the 2021 second-rounder. New England currently ranks 11th in the league in spending at defensive tackle, but that’s sure to increase with Barmore nearing his next contract.

While the Patriots were far from contending last season, and while Robert Kraft’s team needs an influx of talent this offseason, the defense should focus on keeping some internal free agents and bank on the returns of star edge rusher Matthew Judon and second-year cornerback Christian Gonzalez, who each suffered season-ending injuries last season.

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DraftKings Sportsbook listed odds for where Jones will take his first snap in 2024. The Patriots are listed at 14-1 behind the favored Chiefs (-110), while the Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears and Arizona Cardinals are all listed at 10-1.

Jones likely will be paid at the top of the market. Los Angeles Rams’ Aaron Donald ($31.6 million), New York Jets’ Quinnen Williams ($24 million) and Tennessee Titans’ Jeffery Simmons ($23.5 million) are the three highest-paid players at the position. Jones, who earned $20 million in 2023, figures to exceed $25 million per season.

It feels like those finances would be better off spent on a top wideout (Tee Higgins, Calvin Ridley, etc.) or the re-signing of offensive tackle Mike Onwenu, or a combination of multiple players on New England’s talent-lacking offense.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images