The Kansas City Chiefs have one of the young defenses in the NFL with cornerback L’Jarius Sneed emerging as an integral part of their Super Bowl run. With the former 128th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on the verge of hitting free agency, the Chiefs will face a difficult decision within a year.
Sneed, age 26, is entering the last year of his rookie contract and is poised to be one of the top cornerbacks in 2024 NFL free agency. After earning PFWA All-Rookie Team honors in 2020, he rated as the 13th-best cornerback in the NFL last season by Pro Football Focus.
- L’Jarius Sneed contract: $2.743 million salary (2023), 2024 free agent
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In his latest mailbag for Sports Illustrated, MMQB’s Albert Breer addressed Sneed’s future in Kansas City. While he thinks the Chiefs will explore a contract extension, he makes it clear that the organization doesn’t view him as a necessity.
“I think they’ll explore it (contract extension. But the success of the 2022 rookie class, which had three corners who played a lot last year, gives them flexibility…to let Sneed walk if need be. Sneed’s an important young piece, but the Chiefs wouldn’t be in trouble without him.”Albert Breer on L’Jarius Sneed’s future with the Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City has committed significant draft capital toward its defense in recent years, especially in the secondary. The Chiefs used the 21st (Trent McDuffie), 62nd (Bryan Cook), 135th (Joshua Williams) and 243rd (Jaylen Watson) picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. In April, it added defensive back Chamarri Conner with the 119th overall pick.
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While the salaries for the highest-paid NFL cornerbacks haven’t skyrocketed like other positions and Sneed wouldn’t be paid like a top-five corner, the Chiefs are operating tight against the salary cap. As of now, per OvertheCap.com, Kansas City would have roughly $60 million in cap space next offseason with Patrick Mahomes, Willie Gay Jr and Chris Jones headed for extensions or raises.
- L’Jarius Sneed stats (2022): 11 pass deflections, three interceptions, 84.2 QB rating allowed when targeted, 66.3 percent completion rate in 17 starts
As a result, it could make this Sneed’s last season as a starter in the Chiefs’ defense. If he repeats his success from the 2022 season, he’ll be one of the most coveted defensive backs in the open market. With more needs to fill on the roster, Kansas City would likely let him walk and receive a compensatory pick for him in the 2025 NFL Draft.
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