Chiefs To Trade CB L’Jarius Sneed To Titans

MARCH 26: Sneed will end up with a bit more on his second contract, with’s Ian Rapoport noting it will be a $76.4MM deal for the former Chiefs standout. The $19.1MM AAV will place Sneed sixth among cornerbacks. A $20MM signing bonus will comprise part of Sneed’s guarantee package; the Titans can spread that figure over the life of the contract.

MARCH 22: Despite recent reports that a previous trade agreement fell through after the Titans were unable to reach an extension agreement for Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the deal will come to pass.

Tennessee is finalizing a trade that will send Kansas City a 2025 third-round pick and will swap the teams’ seventh-round picks in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft in order to acquire the 27-year-old defender.

The Chiefs had applied the franchise tag to Sneed in order to avoid him hitting unrestricted free agency following the expiration of his rookie deal. Despite the move to keep him under contract, Kansas City didn’t display much of a desire to keep Sneed on the roster in 2024. The team is extremely familiar with the tag-and-trade maneuver having used it to send Dee Ford to San Francisco and acquiring Frank Clark from Seattle under similar circumstances.

Kansas City was unwilling to meet the salary desires that Sneed had for an extension, so it made it clear to the rest of the league that its star cornerback was available for the right price. The Vikings, Colts, Patriots, Lions, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins were all reported as teams to show an initial interest, though several sought other options or simply opted to cease communication with the Chiefs about a deal.

Tennessee took advantage of having the third-most salary cap space in the league, signing Sneed to what Jordan Schultz of Bleacher Report reports will be a four-year, $76MM extension. If those terms are correct, his new deal would match recently extended Bears cornerback Jaylon Johnson‘s in length and overall value. The main difference that Schultz gives us is that while Johnson’s deal included $51.4MM of guarantees, Sneed’s will have $55MM of guaranteed money.

The Titans were reportedly the only team that got close enough, reaching a point at which a deal was essentially ready to go last week, but without being able to reach an agreement on an extended contract from Sneed, the deal seemingly fell through. Following their failed efforts to acquire Sneed, the Titans pivoted, signing free agent cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and using the money set aside for a Sneed extension to sign wide receiver Calvin Ridley.

Sneed comes to Tennessee as the obvious new starter alongside Roger McCreary and Awuzie, replacing Sean Murphy-Bunting, who signed a three-year, $25.5MM deal that sent him to Arizona. The Titans also lost their other outside cornerback when Kristian Fulton signed a one-year contract with the Chargers. Sneed and Awuzie should take over roles as the main outside corners, allowing McCreary to continue to excel in the slot.

As for the Chiefs, while they’ll certainly miss having a playmaker like Sneed in their secondary, they have to feel pretty good about their position moving forward. Once the trade goes through, the totality of Sneed’s $19.8MM franchise tag salary will come of their salary cap, granting much needed cap space to a team that ranked 28th in the NFL before the deal.

As for the draft capital return, in addition to the seventh-round swap, the team will be gauging the success of their trade on how poorly Tennessee performs in 2024. The 2025 third-rounder will obviously come before the late-third-round compensatory pick that Sneed was likely to return as an unrestricted free agent. If the Titans have a poor showing next season, though, they could return an early-third-round pick as a result of today’s deal.

Without Sneed, Kansas City still has to feel pretty good about its talent at cornerback. Three third-year players will return to lead the position room in 2024. In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Chiefs selected Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie in the first round, Fayetteville State cornerback Joshua Williams in the fourth round, and Washington State cornerback Jaylen Watson in the seventh. Today, it views all three as starting-caliber players in their third year.

Specializing in the slot, McDuffie ranked as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-best cornerback in the NFL in 2023. Williams wasn’t far behind as the 26th-best, and Watson graded out at 46th. Including those three and Sneed, the team touts an impressive record evaluating draft-eligible cornerbacks. If they feel the need to add bodies to the room, look to the draft as the likely source of their next great cornerback.

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