In the coming weeks and months, the Kansas City Chiefs coaching staff will wrap up offseason training activities, conduct a mandatory minicamp for the active roster, and then likely enjoy some down time before the demands of training camp creep onto the calendar and call the entire organization away to St. Joseph, Missouri.
For the front office, however, these days are a bit different. The level of activity is already slowed to vacation mode, but that's because roster construction is mostly finished—save for the random star player like DeAndre Hopkins who occasionally becomes available. But behind the scenes, execs like Brett Veach and Brandit Tilis and more are busy putting together offers and counteroffers in an attempt to lock up some players to strategic long-term deals.
The primary player mentioned in conjunction with any sort of extension rumors is defensive tackle Chris Jones. But he's hardly the only one. Tommy Townsend is arguably the best punter in the game and is headed for free agency. Willie Gay Jr. could force some decisions at linebacker with a strong season of play, if the team is not already interested in such a move. And then there's L'Jarius Sneed, a do-it-all defensive back who deserves a considerable pay increase beyond 2023.
Plenty of ink (or digital ink) has already been spilled about the case for extending Sneed for the next few years. He's a favorite of Steve Spagnuolo as a well-rounded, versatile player in the secondary who is physical and can handle the run and yet he's capable of making impact plays on the ball in pass coverage both on the boundary and in the slot. Sneed's ability to do everything well allows Spags to deploy him on defense in a number of ways, meaning opposing teams really can't guess what he will do on any given play.
A chess piece like that is the sort of player most teams would want to lock up, and most of the negative sentiments about Sneed and a long-term deal are centered around the finances involved. But there's one other side that merits greater discussion: the logjam that might form in the secondary.
Right now Sneed will play a major role on a defense in which Jaylen Watson could lay claim to a starting spot along with Joshua Williams and Trent McDuffie. That's already one player who will be on the outside looking in when it comes to the base defense (although everyone will get plenty of playing time) and that particular core will be around for years otehr than Sneed.
This year, the Chiefs drafted Chamarri Conner and Nic Jones in this year's draft class in the fourth and seventh rounds, respectively. Conner was a defensive back out of Virginia Tech capable of playing a number of positions in the secondary from slot corner to strong safety while Jones was a long, physical corner out of Ball State. That's two more additions to the aforementioned holdovers. There are others, of course, who hope to break through like DiCaprio Bootle and Reese Taylor or Kahlef Hailassie, which only further muddies the picture.
That's not to say that Sneed should make way for Bootle. That notion is silly. But there is something to be said for players who actually need a place to play. If Sneed was destined to be locked up forever, then the Chiefs need to stop shopping for so many defensive backs. It's like moving into a new house while taking tours through options that pop up on the market.
Yes, the Chiefs need a solid cadre of defensive backs. That's true of every team in the NFL in today's pass-heavy era. But they already had more starters than spots and they keep adding to the bunch. The end result is likely going to be a logjam unless something gives and that might be the future of Sneed on this team. With a tremendous talent like Sneed, maybe that's a good problem to have, but it's worth mentioning all the same.