Chiefs franchise-tag L'Jarius Sneed: A look at his remarkable versatility

• Chiefs are retaining the star cornerback: Kansas City will pay Sneed $19.8 million in 2024 if he plays on the franchise tag.

• A tag-and-trade has been speculated on: Both sides are reportedly open to a trade if no long-term deal is reached, per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.

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The Kansas City Chiefs have placed the franchise tag on cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, preventing the cornerback from hitting the open market.

Sneed was expected to be one of the hottest names in free agency, and while the tag keeps him tied to the Chiefs for now, the team could still trade him.

A Career Built on Versatility

The former fourth-round pick is one of just three players in the NFL who played more than 1,000 snaps both on the perimeter and in the slot over the past four seasons. Sneed has not only lined up at multiple positions, but he has excelled, too.

Among 89 cornerbacks with at least 1,000 snaps on the perimeter over the past four seasons, Sneed ranks 36th in PFF overall grade (70.6). His 77.1 mark from the slot ranks third out of the 25 defenders who meet the same constraints.

Sneed started his NFL career in the slot in 2020 and then shifted more toward the perimeter midseason in 2022 — a testament to his football IQ. In Week 15 of that year, he played 29 snaps inside and 20 snaps outside. In Week 16, he lined up outside for 75 snaps and just twice in the slot.

Pass Rusher Extraordinaire

Similar to other slot cornerbacks in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense, Sneed has often been asked to rush the passer with the Chiefs.

He has played the second-most pass-rushing snaps among cornerbacks over the past four regular seasons, turning that workload into seven sacks and 36 quarterback pressures — six more than any other player at the position.

L'Jarius Sneed | Regular Season Only
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Lockdown Coverage

While pass rushing is part of the equation, naturally, coverage is more important for a cornerback. The Chiefs' man coverage-heavy defense puts Sneed in frequent one-on-one duels, and he has been targeted 126 times while playing Cover 0, Cover 1 or Cover-2 man over the past four seasons, the eighth most among cornerbacks.

However, despite being targeted often, he is far from a liability in these situations. Sneed allowed just 1.04 receiving yards per coverage snap on such plays, ranking 13th out of 97 qualifying cornerbacks. He also placed 15th in passer rating allowed while in man coverage (71.6).

Although Sneed will not hit the open market, barring an unforeseen move, the possibility of obtaining a true No. 1 cornerback with versatility should have a lot of teams calling the Chiefs and inquiring about a trade over the next couple of weeks.


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