Chiefs Free Agency: Breaking down the details of the L’Jarius Sneed trade
Chiefs Free Agency: Breaking down the details of the L’Jarius Sneed trade

The Kansas City Chiefs traded cornerback L’Jarius Sneed to the Tennessee Titans for the franchise tag late Friday night.

Let’s take a closer look at all the details of the trade.

The seventh round election

Initial reports said the Chiefs would trade Sneed for the Titans’ third-round pick in 2025 and a seventh-round pick in 2024. Late Friday night, of Sports Illustrated Albert Breer reported that Tennessee would give up the earliest of its three seventh-round picks (221) to get Kansas City’s sole seventh-round selection (252).

So the Chiefs will have the first pick of the seventh round, not the sixth to last pick of the seventh. That’s almost a full round (31 points) earlier.

What does this mean?

In 2023, Kansas City general manager Brett Veitch used a seventh-rounder (250) to sign cornerback Nick Jones. In 2022, he used the seventh round to select cornerback Jalen Watson (243), running back Isaiah Pacheco (251) and defensive end Nazi Johnson (259). In 2020, he took cornerback Takarius “BoPete” Keys (237). In 2019, he selected guard Nick Allegretti (216).

While both have shown promise, it’s too early to tell if the Jones and Johnson picks will work. There is no doubt, however, that Watson, Pacheco and Allegretti were hits. So of those six players, only Keys was left out – and all of them (except Allegretti) were taken later than the 221st pick.

The third round pick

There is always uncertainty about the future choices of a project; there’s no way to know where a team’s pick will fall a year from now. In 2024, the Titans are seventh in the draft rankings. In 2023, they were 11th. The year before that they were 18th. In 2021 they picked 22nd and in 2020 they picked 29th. Just by averaging their pick position in those five drafts, we can expect them to end up around 17th – which would be the 81st pick of the 2025 draft.

And frankly, that’s a reasonable expectation for the Titans. They’ve made a lot of moves to improve this season – but they’ll still need to overcome the Houston Texans to win the AFC South. Houston has too took some significant steps in the offseason – and theirs the quarterback is CJ Stroud, not Will Lewis.

Some will argue that the Chiefs could have gotten a compensatory third-round pick in 2025 by letting Sneed walk in free agency instead of going through this tag-and-trade process. True.

But we must remember that the choice of computer is such no guaranteed. If Sneed had simply left, the Chiefs likely would have made a splashy signing during the first wave of free agency — which by itself could delete that possibility. Even if the Chiefs hadn’t done anything else in the free agent market at the time, the 2025 pick couldn’t have been earlier than the 97th selection — and depending on how Snead performed in Tennessee (and what other teams did ), it’s possible they even went somewhere around the 132nd pick after the fourth round.

So any way you slice it, this trade improved Sneed’s best-case return by about 16 draft positions — and potentially a lot more than that.

The commercial value

in an x post on Saturday morningNFL analyst Kevin Cole, who is worth paying attention to.

It’s very hard to argue that the team trading a player was “exempt” when they are willing to trade the player to any of the 31 teams with the highest offer.

Cole was right. Sneed’s trade value is not that of the Chiefs, Spotrac, sports talk show hosts or internet pundits (including Cole and myself) i think it is. Instead, his trade value is what 31 other teams will do bid it to be.

Yes… The Chiefs, local sports talkers (and you and I) would prefer to get a third round pick this season, not the following season – if not even a higher pick in both seasons. But we can’t ignore what’s right here in front of us: Sneed just wasn’t worth that much.

Partly that was because he was going to ask for a big contract. His new four-year contract with the Titans is worth $76 million — including $55 million guaranteed. That’s a $19 million annual average, which now makes Sneed the sixth-highest paid corner in the league. Such a contract will always reduce what another team is willing to give up in a trade.

Sneed’s value was also affected by his injury history. After being held out of practice for the final weeks of training camp with knee inflammation, Snead was listed on the team’s weekly injury report for all but two games in 2023. While he’s been a full participant in all of the team’s practices for 14 of those weeks, a 27-year-old constantly receiving treatment for knee inflammation would be a concern — and now we know the Titans were worried about it.

Why? Since the trade was originally reported to depend on physical.

We can all agree that we were hoping—or maybe even expecting—the Chiefs to get more in this trade. But Sneed brought what the market would bear. After all, a player taken with the 138th pick in the draft gave his team four solid seasons (including two in which he was among the league’s best) before being traded for a pick that will now likely be 50 to 60 selections earlier — plus a full round of value earnings on another selection. That’s a win.

The weather

Cole make another point Saturday morning.

Time is the biggest problem for maximizing value. After FA and before the draft is probably the worst.

He was right about that too. The more time passed, the less likely it would cost Sneed. And opening up nearly $19 million in cap space would be far more beneficial before free agency begins than after the biggest deals have already been made.

But according to others x saturday morning post – the one from At Athletic Diana Rusini — The bosses were not slow.

The afternoon of March 12 was the day before league year has officially begun – and if you remember, the news first broke that Kansas City will visit Bank of Mahomes for $21.6 million in cap space at 6:25 p.m. (Arrowhead time) that evening.

So the Chiefs always intended to get this deal done before free agency began — and use the cap space they would gain for the moves they had in mind. As it played out, Kansas City was ready to do it with 24 hours to spare; it’s just that the titans wanted to keep working on the details. That meant the Chiefs had to go to their backup source for the cap space.

Will the Chiefs use that money now for additional moves in free agency — or will they do their best to hold on to most of it for 2025?

The best bet is that they will do both.

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