The Chiefs' ideal decision for each defensive free agent

The Kansas City Chiefs are set to embark upon a quest to extend their dynasty and potentially become the first team to win three-straight Super Bowls. Appropriately, addressing a laundry list of pending defensive free agents is the key to getting the offseason off to a good start.

NFL Combine
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With the NFL Combine in the rearview and the start of the new league year approaching next week, the Kansas City Chiefs have some pending free agency business to attend to. The deadline for designating franchise or transition players is March 5th. The legal tampering period opens on March 11th, and the window for free agency opens two days later.

Today, we'll take a look at my perspective on how the Chiefs should approach the retention or release of players with expiring contracts. We'll focus on the defensive side of the football and circle back on offensive players in the next piece.

Let's start by assessing four of Kansas City's five exclusive rights free agents:

LB Cole Christiansen
• LB Jack Cochrane
• DE Malik Herring
• DB Nazeeh Johnson

For the sake of maintaining roster flexibility, I would tender Cochrane, Herring, and Johnson. Cole Christiansen has yet to make a real contribution to the team either defensively or on special teams and roster spots are precious in the NFL.

For the other 10 defensive free agents, we'll look at them individually.

DT Chris Jones

The biggest free agency decision facing the Kansas City Chiefs is whether or not they'll retain their five-time All-Pro defensive tackle Chris Jones. The contract negotiation process last offseason was a mess. Jones held out of training camp and wound up in the stands on Banner Night. It ended well, as Jones re-couped the money he forfeited during his holdout, but the Chiefs are now back to square one. Jones was a first-team All-Pro for the second straight season and tacked on his fifth-consecutive Pro Bowl selection. It's likely to cost them $28-29 million per year, but Jones should be re-signed.

CB L'Jarius Sneed

News has recently broken that cornerback L'Jarius Sneed has received the franchise tag designation from the Kansas City Chiefs and speculation is that he will eventually be traded. Kansas City has built one of the most formidable secondaries in the National Football League. So despite distinguishing himself as a shutdown corner in the 2023 season, there's some thought that they can shoulder the loss of Sneed with other defensive backs in the cupboard. Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson certainly haven't shown an All-Pro trajectory at this stage, but both have played quality football for Kansas City. It pains me to say this, but a trade makes the most sense. The Chiefs need to address premium positions at tackle and wide receiver.