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Chiefs will wait until final moment to place franchise tag on L’Jarius Sneed, per report [UPDATED]

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By: John Dixon

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Despite last week’s news, Kansas City has not yet officially placed the franchise tag on its free-agent cornerback

It was last Wednesday when Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz reported that the Kansas City Chiefs had placed their 2024 franchise tag on free-agent cornerback L’Jarius Sneed. We (along with many other outlets) picked up that news — and salary-cap sites Spotrac and OverTheCap dutifully subtracted the 2024’s $19.8 million cornerback franchise tag figure from Kansas City’s available cap space, which then fell to just $9.5 million.

It all made sense. The day before, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler had reported that the Chiefs had “informed L’Jarius Sneed they are prepared to use the franchise tag,” and were willing to trade him if they couldn’t come to terms on a long-term deal. Over the weekend, there were multiple reports that teams like the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins were in the mix to make a deal for the cornerback.

There was just one problem. Sneed’s franchise-tag designation did not appear on last Wednesday’s official NFL transactions report — or any one since then.

But on Sunday, The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reported that on Monday, the Chiefs would officially confer the tag upon Sneed.

UPDATE at 3:01 p.m. Monday: Russini had it right. On Monday afternoon, the Chiefs announced that Sneed had been franchise tagged. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Russini’s report had been made on Monday, identifying Tuesday as the day the tag would be made official.

Why would the team delay officially placing the tag on Sneed?

For one thing, news that the team intended to tag Sneed was enough to get the levers moving during the NFL Combine, when coaches and executives for all of the league’s teams were gathered in Indianapolis. And critically — after Schultz’s report on Wednesday — NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport noted that while the tag hadn’t yet been made official, the team had given Sneed permission to seek a trade with another team. So as a practical matter, the tag’s official designation wasn’t really necessary — at least not right away.

Kansas City general manager Brett Veach was simply keeping his options open. Just about every reporter who has presented news on Sneed’s trade possibilities (including Russini on Monday) has also reported that the team is speaking with free-agent defensive tackle Chris Jones about a long-term deal. Keeping the franchise tag in his pocket was also a way for Veach to signal to Jones’s camp that if push came to shove, the team could still shift course and tag Jones for 2024.

Doing so would have eliminated the possibility of trading Sneed — but if the Chiefs were prioritizing keeping Jones over Sneed, that might not been the biggest issue on their minds. Besides… if the tag ended up on Jones, both Sneed and the team would already have a pretty good idea of his free-market value a week before free agency begins. That would be valuable information for both sides.

Now, though, Russini’s report that Sneed will be tagged before Tuesday’s 3 p.m. (Arrowhead Time) deadline for franchise tags suggests that a trade for Sneed is close to being worked out — and that there has been progress on a new deal for Jones.

Originally posted on Arrowhead Pride