Getty Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed at Allegiant Stadium on January 7, 2023.
The Kansas City Chiefs can thank their defense for starting the bye week with a 7-2 record.
The Chiefs’ defense ranks second in the league in scoring defense and fourth in total defense, according to the AP, helping propel Kansas City to another Super Bowl run.
While general manager Brett Veach would like to keep all key defensive players, Bleacher Report’s David Kenyon predicts that the team’s shadow cornerback L’Jarius Sneed will be forced to “change teams” after this season. The Louisiana Tech graduate is in the middle of the final year of his $3.9 million rookie contract.
Spotrac.com expects Sneed’s market value to earn him a four-year, $29.6 million contract, making for a “complicated offseason,” Kenyon wrote.
“All-Pro pass rusher lineman Chris Jones is headed to free agency, and he will be incredibly expensive. However, Kansas City has seen its defense without Jones, and it’s not great. Letting him go could be devastating.”
The Chiefs are estimated to have $51.6 million in cap space in 2024. Kenyon believes the Chiefs will prioritize paying All-Pro pass rusher Chris Jones, who is expected to make a salary of $32 million next season.
“The problem is that his price probably means the Chiefs won’t be able to keep cornerback L’Jarius Sneed,” Kenyon surmised.
“He was a fantastic player in four seasons with Kansas City. However, as a bargain fourth-round pick in 2020, this contract is particularly important to Sneed’s career earnings. Sneed already has two rings and will have a top corner available. It only makes sense for him to put a little more emphasis on his salary as he enters his age-26 season if he so desires.”
Chiefs news: L’Jarius Sneed said his contract will take care of itself
In nine games this season, Sneed has recorded a total of 38 tackles, 10 stops and one interception, earning an overall grade of 77.0 from Pro Football Focus.
An uncertain future can weigh heavily on a player, but Sneed keeps his head down and focused on the game. “I’m not thinking about it,” Sneed told Forbes about an extension in Kansas City. “I’m just playing ball right now. It’ll take care of itself when the time comes.”
Sneed’s expected number could rise if he can curb the penalties. He committed four offenses during the Chiefs’ 24-9 loss to the Denver Broncos and two more against the Minnesota Vikings, including a $13,659 fine for unsportsmanlike conduct. But the defender isn’t worried about that.
The NFL fined #Chiefs CB L’Jarius Sneed $13,659 for unsportsmanlike conduct – removing his helmet to raise a flag against him, most recently in last week’s win over the #Vikings.
Officers picked up the original flag and also did not report Sneed for removing his helmet. pic.twitter.com/8rzViwfUxJ
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) October 14, 2023
“They took my name down,” he said of the officers. “I am [an] I’m in an aggressive corner and will continue to be aggressive. They don’t like it.”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid believes the good with Sneed far outweighs the bad. “Some of those penalties were tricky, and that’s what happens whenever you have a physical corner,” Reid told reporters about Sneed’s performance in Minnesota. “I will feel it every day, what type of player he is, what plays he makes and what he does for us in defense.”
The 6-foot-3, 192-pound player is confident his performance will speak for itself. And the money? “That will come,” he said.
Last season, Sneed recorded a career-high 11 passes defended, 108 tackles and three interceptions en route to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Patrick Mahomes praised the Chiefs’ defense
One person who isn’t surprised by the Chiefs defense’s rapid rise in the rankings is quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
“I knew they were going to be good,” Mahomes told reporters after the Chiefs beat the Miami Dolphins 21-14 in Frankfurt, Germany.
“Look at the end of last year, they played great football and nobody really noticed. I knew they would be good. They brought back so many people – so many young people they wanted to develop. I mean, the fact that they’re all evolving so quickly, I don’t know if anyone could have predicted that. I knew they would do great things later in their careers. It’s nice that there are a lot of young people who can play like that.”
Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuola credits Sneed with playing a key role in their success. “He wants to compete against the best,” Spagnuola said, according to The Athletic. “That’s why we do it. When you have a guy like that and trust that you can make him your best man, I think the other ten guys will rally around him.”
Emily Bicks covers the NFL for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Bills, Seahawks and Chiefs. She has been writing for Heavy since 2019 and has interviewed some of sports’ biggest stars, including Jerry Rice, Shaquille O’Neal and Stefon Diggs. More about Emily Bicks
Take the quiz now
Like heavy but hate the ads?
Subscribe now for an ad-free experience
More emphasis on Chiefs news
More stories are loading