Excellent Corner, 27, Hints at Needing to Sign Elsewhere, Leaving the Door Ajar for the Vikings

NFL: AFC Championship-Kansas City Chiefs at Baltimore Ravens
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, Brian Flores massively overachieved. Just imagine what he could accomplish if even two or three high-end players get layered into his defense.

More specifically, what could Flores do with L’Jarius Sneed, an excellent corner who is coming off of his second Super Bowl victory?

On Pro Football Talk, Josh Alper relays what the defender had to say during an appearance on the The Up & Adams show. Apparently, there is some uncertainty about Kansas City having the requisite funds to pay both Sneed and Chris Jones, the tremendous defensive tackle: “I hope so, I hope so. They can’t keep both of us. Hopefully they got enough for both of us. But you know, they gonna make it happen. I hope so.”

Per the corner, continuing his career in Kansas City isn’t a locked-in certainty.

L’Jarius Sneed is 27 and is an Excellent Corner. Does He Test Free Agency?

Safe to say Minnesota would be among the numerous teams to have some interest in Sneed.

He was originally chosen 138th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft (the same year as Mr. Jefferson). Since then, he has massively exceeded expectations. Just last season saw him snag 78 tackles, 14 passes defended, and 2 interceptions. He even tossed on 5 tackles for a loss and 3 QB hits. And while he didn’t have any sacks, Sneed has actually picked up 6.5 in his four-year career.

Jan 13, 2024; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (38) reacts against the Miami Dolphins during the first half of the 2024 AFC wild card game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the reason for the lesser sack total is because he blitzed less. However, the simple fact that he makes plays behind the line of scrimmage as a corner is impressive. He blitzed a dozen times in 2023 but was sent 40 times in 2022, 47 times in 2021, and 13 times in 2020.

Even more important are some of his coverage numbers. Last season, Sneed allowed just 51% of passes into his coverage to be completed. He didn’t allow a touchdown. His passer rating allowed was at just 55.9. Quarterbacks didn’t find much success while targeting the KC corner.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears
Oct 15, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores watches his team play against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a quick look at where L’Jarius Sneed lined up makes the purple fit even more compelling.

He thrived last season while snagging 900 snaps out wide while having just 23 in the slot, 35 along the defensive line, and 31 in the box. In 2022, though, Sneed moved into the slot for 546 snaps while being along the outside for 361 snaps. The 2021 season featured an even more pronounced divide, seeing Sneed snag 543 slot snaps against 225 along the outside.

Flores loves moving his defenders around the formation, so Sneed’s versatility is notable.

Dec 25, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (38) is introduced against the Las Vegas Raiders prior to a game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Add it all together and L’Jarius Sneed basically ticks all of the boxes. He’s 6’1″, 192 and ran a 4.37. He can move all over the defensive backfield and has had plenty of success as a blitzer. He has won a pair of Super Bowls and is still only 27. If Kansas City really lets him hit the open market — and a lot hinges on that tiny, two-letter word: if — then the Vikings must give the Sneed possibility a thorough consideration.

Coming off of a rookie contract (and as a 4th-round selection, no less) means that the corner is going to be looking for major money. Quite possibly, Sneed’s leverage will never be higher, so expect him to target a huge contract. What does that mean within the context of NFL corners?

Denzel Ward, Jalen Ramsey, and Jaire Alexander are leading the pack in annual average as the only ones at $20 million per season or more. Ramsey and Ward are the lone pair to have exceeded $70 million in total guarantees and the Browns’ corner — Ward — is leading the charge in fully guaranteed money at $44.5 million.

Jan 8, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) returns an interception against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Presumably, the Sneed deal is going to come in around 4 or 5 years and somewhere between $17.5-$20 million per season. Denzel Ward, Marshon Lattimore, and Jalen Ramsey are all sitting around 5 years and $100 million. Would a team be willing to go to those heights with Sneed?

On PFF, Brad Spielberger comes to a relatively modest prediction, suggesting that the contract will be just 3 years and $52.5 million in total money. If Spielberger ends up being closer to the truth — teams are offering just a trio of seasons and less than $60 million in total cash — then the Vikings should seriously consider making themselves the highest bidder for Sneed’s services.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.