NFL Analysis


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2024 NFL Free Agency: Potential Landing Spots for L'Jarius Sneed

L'Jarius Sneed chases down a Baltimore Ravens player in the open field
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (38) chases Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) in the AFC Championship football game. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

The Kansas City Chiefs have placed the franchise tag on L’Jarius Sneed. But that doesn’t mean the market for him is closed. Kansas City is reportedly open to trading Sneed on the tag if a long-term contract isn't reached, a scenario Sneed is also open to having play out.

Sneed was one of the top cornerbacks in the league during the 2023 season, and he currently sits ninth on our top free agents list. Nearly every team in the league could use a player such as Sneed, but a tag and trade could limit the number of teams willing to engage in discussions.

As we’ve done for other players potentially on the market, let’s take a look at a few of the best fits for Sneed.

Potential Landing Spots for L'Jarius Sneed

Kansas City Chiefs

Staying with the Chiefs would be a great result for the player and the team. Sneed thrived as the top outside corner in the aggressive Steve Spagnuolo defense that ran the fifth-highest rate of man coverage in the league, per TruMedia.

Sneed played 91 percent of his snaps on the outside, and the Chiefs ranked fifth in DVOA against opposing No. 1 receivers. Having Sneed on the outside allowed Kansas City to keep Trent McDuffie in the slot often, where he played 45 percent of his snaps. McDuffie could handle an increased role on the outside, but he’s at his best bouncing around the formation, especially when the Chiefs go so defensive back-heavy — they ranked fourth in the rate of dime personnel at 22.6 percent.

With the Chiefs tagging Sneed, the team's priority will be getting a long-term deal done with Chris Jones before free agency starts. Kansas City has just over $6 million in cap space, including the $19.8 million hit for Sneed’s tag. An extension for Sneed would lower that figure in Year 1 of the deal, giving the Chiefs more flexibility to add a Jones deal to the books.

Los Angeles Rams

The Los Angeles Rams have a first-round pick they might not know what to do with, in case that’s what the Chiefs would be looking for as a return for Sneed. The Rams also need a No. 1 corner.

Ahkello Witherspoon was a good free-agent signing — he plugged in as a veteran corner on an otherwise fairly young secondary. But he was only on a one-year deal, and the Rams struggled against No. 1 receivers — they were 18th in DVOA.

Without Witherspoon, the Rams only have 2022 sixth-round pick Derion Kendrick and 2023 sixth-round pick Tre Tomlinson at outside corner. Tomlinson barely played as a rookie, and Kendrick was 91st among cornerbacks in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snaps. 

Los Angeles played one of the lowest rates of man coverage last season under Raheem Morris, and that could continue under new defensive coordinator Chris Shula. But the defensive structure uses a ton of man principles in its zone coverage.

With a few players in the starting secondary set to hit the market, along with two starting offensive linemen, the Rams are among the top teams in cap space with about $36 million. This is a veteran team that could be near the end of its current era, so trying to hit the top of the market for a player at a premium position such as Sneed could make sense.

Detroit Lions

If there's a clear weakness on the Detroit Lions' roster, it’s their secondary — specifically their cornerbacks. The Lions were 16th in DVOA against the pass but just 23rd against opposing No. 1 receivers. 

Cameron Sutton is set to return, but he ranked 128th among cornerbacks in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap. Jerry Jacobs was 112th. Those are the only two outside corners under contract for the Lions in 2024.

Signing Sutton and Emmanuel Mosely was an attempt to quickly patch up weaknesses in coverage with low-risk veteran players. But with the Lions pushing to reach another level of performance, Detroit could swing for a top corner to settle the position. This defense is still young all over, with the third-lowest snap-weighted age on that side of the ball

The addition of Sneed would help with a defense that has wanted to play aggressive man coverage but hasn’t had the corners to play it consistently. In 2023, the Lions had the 10th-highest rate of man coverage after they ranked third in 2022.

Detroit has the seventh-most cap space in the league and could swing a bigger first-year cap hit for Sneed to prepare for long-term extensions for much of the young core on the roster.

Minnesota Vikings

For a blitz-heavy defense, the Minnesota Vikings need a strong stable of cornerbacks to hold up in coverage. The group of Byron Murphy, Akayleb Evans and Mekhi Blackmon was fine, but Minnesota could use a shutdown corner on the outside.

Having a player such as Sneed could allow some of the other defenders to bounce around and make more of their versatility. Murphy played 66 percent of his snaps outside, while Evans played outside 79 percent of the time.

Letting those players move around and change up the looks — Josh Metellus played everywhere in 2023 — could be huge for the Vikings with the added benefit of someone always on the No. 1 outside receiver.

Minnesota will have a need at edge with Danielle Hunter, D.J. Wonnum and Jonathan Bullard set to be free agents, but if the team wants to fully lean into the blitz, the Vikings could save some money on traditional pass rushers (due to how often second- and third-level players will be rushing) while they invest in a No. 1 corner.

The Vikings have about $30 million in cap space but would need to entice the Chiefs with something added to Minnesota's early second-round pick with 11th overall selection out of the question to send in a trade scenario.

Green Bay Packers

Sneed could serve as a splash for a Green Bay Packers defense that should be more aggressive under new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley.

The Packers’ bigger need is for a slot corner, but adding Sneed could allow Jaire Alexander to move inside more often. Alexander has been a good player in the slot but has mostly been kept on the outside.

Part of that was the scheme under Joe Barry and part of that was keeping Alexander from more physical interactions near the line of scrimmage in the run game due to his shoulder injury. Alexander wouldn't have to play in the slot full-time, but that would be an extra layer of versatility that would benefit the defense overall.

Green Bay was 26th in DVOA against opposing No. 1 receivers in 2023. That would be covered with Sneed on the outside and with Alexander able to follow them inside when those receivers move. 

Carrington Valentine, a 2023 seventh-round pick, played well on the outside — above average in adjusted yards allowed per coverage snap — and would be able to play there in nickel packages should the top two corners be Sneed and Alexander.  

The Packers would need to get creative with a new deal for Sneed with just about $5 million in cap space, but Green Bay has ways to open up space. This could be a time to get another star on the defense to pair with the league’s youngest offense.