Chiefs Fans Must Prepare for ‘Rude Awakening’ With Potential L’Jarius Sneed Trade

L'Jarius Sneed

Getty Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed at Allegiant Stadium on January 07, 2023.

In a perfect world, the Kansas City Chiefs would keep both defensive tackle Chris Jones and cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. But financially speaking, that’s a tall order.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on February 27 that Kansas City is “prepared” to tag Sneed. They are open to “consummate a trade” if no long-term deal is reached. “Sneed is agreeable to the scenario, giving him a chance to talk with other teams while K.C. remains in play.”

A franchise tag for Sneed would cost the Chiefs $19.8 million. “The Chiefs won’t be paying that,” Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney posted. “It will either be a long-term deal for Sneed in KC that will lower that number, or they will move that number entirely for draft compensation.”

After learning Sneed was getting tagged, many analysts assumed a trade was imminent. “A tag-and-trade would presumably return a premium draft selection, and cornerback is a position they have had a clear knack for drafting,” Sweeney added. “Still, the door seems at least slightly open for Sneed to return at the right price.”

The 33rd Team’s Ari Meirov posted, “The Chiefs last did this in 2019 when they franchise-tagged DE Dee Ford and then flipped him to San Francisco for a 2nd-round pick.” Others warned about the trade value the Chiefs can expect for Sneed. Even though he’s an elite defender, Sneed’s unlikely to garner a first-round pick.

Arrowhead Addict’s Price Carter posted, “Some Chiefs fans are in for a rude awakening when it comes to compensation for Sneed. He’s a great player but the tag/trade scenario never yields best return. Factor in age, injury and lack of ball production. This isn’t another Tyreek haul.”

It’s Easier for the Chiefs to Tag L’Jarius Sneed Than Chris Jones

Chris Jones

GettyChiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones on February 07, 2024.

Speaking to reporters earlier in the day, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said retaining Jones was their “top” priority. He is the central piece of Chiefs coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, an irreplaceable star. Veach wants to see the five-time Pro Bowler retire in Kansas City.

A franchise tag on Jones would cost the Chiefs north of $32 million, the most expensive non-quarterback tag in NFL history, per The Athletic’s Nate Taylor. Even with the inflated salary cap, tagging Jones is not a possibility.

Chiefs Digest’s Matt Derrick wrote, “The math suggests that tagging Sneed is the easiest course of action, whether the intent is to retain Sneed or package him in a trade. According to salary cap tracking sites such as Spotrac and Over the Cap, the Chiefs have as much as $28.3 million in available cap space when the new league year begins on March 13.”

The Chiefs have until March 5 to decide on a franchise tag.

Chiefs Star L’Jarius Sneed Made It Clear He’s Looking to Get Paid

L'Jarius Sneed

GettyChiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed at Allegiant Stadium on February 11, 2024.

While Veach acknowledged that tagging and trading Sneed is one of their “contingency plans,” the goal is to retain both him and Jones. “It’d be great to get Chris and LJ done,” Veach said.

“That’s our goal and intention, but we also know that it’s not 100% and might not even be 75%. It might be 50%. And so we’ll have a backup plan to that. A lot of this has to do with it’s like a musical chair game where if you’re not able to bring both those guys back.”

Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is on the same page. “We’d love to have those guys back. I know Brett is doing what he needs to do to do that. (Chiefs owner) Clark Hunt is doing what he needs to do to do that. All those guys have heard me talk about how it’s a team sport, and they know what we’re trying to get done.”

While Sneed has expressed his desire to stay with the Chiefs, projects him earning a four-year, $65 million contract in free agency. At age 27, this is Sneed’s best chance to secure the bag.

Speaking to Kay Adams on “Up & Adams” on February 15, the Louisiana Tech alum was asked what he’d like to tell Veach ahead of free agency. “Pay me,” Sneed said. “Pay me, pay me. That’s what I’ve got to say. Pay me.”

When it comes to cornerback, the Chiefs have a solid insurance plan in place if Sneed walks. If Sneed leaves for more money, it’s understandable given his position.

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