Sneed isn’t too far behind Jones’ importance to the Chiefs’ defense. His physical play fits perfectly into defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system, and he’s a corner who can match up with an opponent’s No. 1. Sneed would get paid big time if he hits the open market.
If the Chiefs can’t stomach a franchise tag for Jones that would be north of $30 million, they could use it on Sneed to ensure he doesn’t hit the open market (expected to be around $18.4 million).
Those are the Chiefs’ top two free agents, but they’re not the only ones Veach needs to worry about on his defense. Linebacker Drue Tranquill, edge Michael Danna, linebacker Willie Gay Jr., defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, safeties Deon Bush and Mike Edwards are also all set to be free agents.
After years of getting by on defense, Veach and his staff have done a remarkable job stockpiling that side of the ball, making it one of the best units in the NFL this season. In a salary-cap world, that eventually comes with a cost.
“I still remember in ’17 and ’18 just saying if we can just get them to punt just once we’ve got a shot,” Veach said. “Now all of a sudden it’s like all we’ve got to do is just score once and we’re good.
“Going from where we were in ’17 and ’18 to having one of the best defenses, knowing the constraints we had of just paying [Patrick Mahomes] and probably drafting later [in rounds], I don’t think I ever envisioned having a top one or two defense.”