Why the Chiefs should strongly consider tagging and trading L'Jarius Sneed

Given how expensive bringing both Jones and Sneed back would be and how difficult it is to navigate free agency with a franchise tag on the books, it would be wise of Kansas City to explore a tag and trade scenario for L'Jarius Sneed.

Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages
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NFL free agency is just a couple of weeks away and the Kansas City Chiefs have plenty of tough decisions to make, but two big issues stand out from the rest: what to do about the futures of Chris Jones and L'Jarius Sneed. Those two were arguably the top two players on a defense that carried Kansas City to a third Super Bowl victory in five years.

Now, both Jones and Sneed want to get paid and both deserve to be among the highest-paid players at their respective positions. It goes without saying that it is going to be very difficult to retain both of them. Even despite the NFL announcing that cap space will be up far more than the expected number in 2024, that's a double-edged sword because that also allows players to demand more money to reset the market.

Players such as Jones and Sneed have every right to demand their worth, and they will most likely get that from someone whether it is from Kansas City or another team. K.C., however, can use the franchise tag on one of Jones or Sneed which would keep them from hitting the open market. It already seems unlikely that Jones will get the tag because it would pay him even more this year than last year due to it being the second tag in a row. That leaves Sneed as the realistic tag option.

Given how expensive bringing both Jones and Sneed back would be and how difficult it is to navigate free agency with a franchise tag on the books, it would be wise of Kansas City to explore a tag and trade scenario for L'Jarius Sneed.

Without getting into an entire "Jones versus Sneed" debate, let's summarize why Chris Jones is the priority here. Jones is a future Hall of Famer and an absolute game-wrecker. The Chiefs don't win the Super Bowl this year or last year without him and he saved 14 points in Super Bowl LVIII alone.

Not only is Jones the better and more important player, but the Chiefs have been much better at addressing secondary with young, cost-effective pieces. This means they could absorb the loss of L'Jarius Sneed, but the defensive line gets really thin if you lose Jones. The entire defensive tackle room is essentially hitting free agency making Jones more of a need.

It just seems as if Chris Jones is the engine of the defense. So much of what they do revolves around him generating that pressure from the interior and the odds just seem greater that Kansas City finds another L'Jarius Sneed rather than another Chris Jones. Jones is such a unicorn with his skill set, and the Chiefs don't have anyone else who comes close to his impact if they let him go. If Sneed goes, the Chiefs still have Trent McDuffie, who was an All-Pro; Jaylen Watson; Joshua Williams; and Chamarri Conner, who showed out in the postseason.

In the most ideal scenario, Kansas City holds onto both Jones and Sneed, but fans certainly should prepare for the possibility that Sneed could be tagged and traded and there's a lot of benefit to doing so.

Looking at the upside of a potential tag-and-trade decision regarding L'Jarius Sneed.

First, let's start with why it makes sense. Sure, saying goodbye to Sneed would be tough. He was a huge part of the defense. Nonetheless, you could get quite a lot for him. A late first-round pick or pick swap doesn't seem impossible, and a second-round pick, at the very least, seems very realistic. Getting some assets back for Sneed while his value is the highest it will ever be would be wise.

Hypothetically, if you were to trade Sneed and save the money, get a draft pick or two back, sign a solid free agent cornerback, and draft another talented defensive back in this upcoming NFL Draft, would that not suffice? Not only do you still have an opportunity to shore up the secondary after trading Sneed if you do it, but it gives you so much more flexibility in free agency and ensures you're not letting Sneed walk for nothing.

Here's the thing with keeping both Sneed and Jones: It's possible, but is it optimal? The easy answer is yes, but a lot of Chiefs fans want a wide receiver this offseason. Another defensive end sounds nice with the likelihood that Charles Omenihu is injured into next year. Oh yeah, what about bringing back Drue Tranquill? Doing all of those things becomes very difficult if this team hands out money to both Sneed and Jones.

The Chiefs have a lot of their own free agents other than Jones and Sneed to bring back too, and only so much money to hand out to all of them. The Chiefs would end up sacrificing some depth to keep the duo of Jones and Sneed together, but the ability to add even more depth with the assets and cap space from a Sneed tag and trade becomes more attractive the more you think about it. You could grab a Tyler Boyd in free agency and an A.J. Epenesa as well as potentially bring back Willie Gay and Drue Tranquill and that's not even mentioning the NFL Draft yet.

Ultimately, it isn't up to us to make that decision and it's honestly a position that none of us should envy, having to make that decision. But there is a lot of upside in potentially tagging and trading L'Jarius Sneed and it's time fans start giving a little more attention to that possibility.

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