Skip to main content

Report Checks on Offseason Free Agent Outlooks of KC Chiefs' L'Jarius Sneed, Chris Jones

With the offseason around the corner, Kansas City is reportedly prioritizing more than one upcoming in-house free agent.

The Kansas City Chiefs constructed one of the youngest defenses in the NFL, helping form a unit that's been one of the league's best in 2023-24. After Super Bowl LVIII, however, a few veteran contributors could hit the open market.

Two key members of Steve Spagnuolo's defense are set to enter free agency in March: cornerback L'Jarius Sneed and defensive tackle Chris Jones. While the Super Bowl is the club's current focus, that will soon have to shift to decision-making for roster building. A few smart moves can help keep Kansas City's championship window wide open, whereas a string of bad ones could make things increasingly difficult next season.

According to a report from Adam Teicher of ESPN, the Chiefs' offseason tasks include finding a way to retain both Sneed and Jones. General manager Brett Veach refers to those players as "top of the list" priorities. How realistic is that? Ian Rapoport of NFL Network spoke from Super Bowl Radio Row about the looming outlooks for both star defenders. 

L'Jarius Sneed tracking to be a franchise tag candidate?

"A busy (offseason), and probably an expensive one," Rapoport said. "I mean, those are two superstars on the defensive side of the ball. L'Jarius Sneed, really one of the best finds of Brett Veach's career, certainly would be a possibility of being a franchise tag candidate. You only get one, right? So you figure the number for Chris Jones — they want to retain both. Brett Veach has come out publicly this week saying that is going to be the priority for the Kansas City Chiefs. The franchise tag would make a lot of sense for L'Jarius Sneed."

It's been a breakout campaign for Sneed, which comes at the perfect time considering his rookie contract expires after the season. The fourth-year man thrived in Spagnuolo's secondary, locking down opposing top wideouts and overcoming some penalties to impose his will and remain consistent all year long. The Chiefs have come off as absolutely interested in bringing Sneed back, either on a multi-year deal or the aforementioned tag. Both would likely come at a similar per-year ceiling (between $18-19 million on the tag and perhaps a bit less average annual value on an extension).

Still a chance for Chris Jones to stay a Chief?

"And then you say for Chris Jones, is someone going to pay a 30-something defensive tackle more than the Chiefs?" Rapoport asked. "Maybe. If that's the case, he might go get it. They have built something incredibly special in Kansas City. I know even with the contract off and on, the kind of angst we had before the season, still a lot of good feelings there. We had the holdout, still showed up [and] was an All-Pro player. I know the Chiefs would like him back; it's just really a matter of finding a number that they can stomach and that is enough for him to remain a Chief for life."

Although Jones wasn't as productive in 2023 as he was in 2022, he was still named an All-Pro and served as a premier interior pass rusher. As he reaches his 30th birthday during the offseason, he's at an interesting point in his career. The tag seems highly unlikely considering a projected cap hit of just over $32M, so a multi-year pact appears to be the only plausible long-term way to keep him in Kansas City. Considering his summer holdout last year and his accolades this season, it's more difficult to envision a world with Jones wearing a Chiefs uniform barring a deflation in market value. 

The two sides couldn't come to terms when Jones had less mileage on his body and was producing at a higher level, and the outlook isn't much better now. That's without even considering Sneed's situation, but never say never. Kansas City would surely love to retain a player of Jones's caliber, no matter how many hoops there are to jump through.