NFL trade grades: Titans land L'Jarius Sneed in blockbuster deal with Chiefs

The Tennessee Titans have officially acquired L'Jarius Sneed from the Tennessee Titans.

L'Jarius Sneed, Kansas City Chiefs
L'Jarius Sneed, Kansas City Chiefs / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Kansas City Chiefs were always heading in this direction. As soon as the franchise tag was placed on L'Jarius Sneed, he was the subject of countless trade rumors. It has been a difficult offseason for the Chiefs on the financial front, with several hoops being leaped through just to open up the door to re-sign Chris Jones.

That was always the priority. The Chiefs don't win Super Bowl LVIII without Jones anchoring the defensive line. But, the casualty of signing Jones to a historic contract — the all-time most lucrative at his position — is Sneed. The talented CB was beloved in Kansas City and he made his desire to stay known, but there was no path forward. The Chiefs were too reluctant, or just flat-out unable to sign Sneed to the contract he desired.

Now, Sneed gets his fresh start with the Tennessee Titans. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Chiefs will receive a 2025 third-round pick, in addition to a 2024 seventh-round pick flop. Sneed will sign a new contract with the Titans.

NFL trade grades: Chiefs send L'Jarius Sneed to Titans for pennies on dollar

According to ESPN, Sneed and the Titans have been working on a contract framework "for days." It will be formalized after Sneed completes his physical, making the 27-year-old one of the highest-paid cornerbacks in NFL history.

He will receive $76 million over four years, with $55 million guaranteed, according to Bleacher Report's Jordan Schultz.

Sneed joins the recently signed Chidobe Awuzie in the Titans' reshaped defensive backfield. It has been a busy offseason for the Titans, who also added Tony Pollard and Calvin Ridley to complement second-year QB Will Levis on offense. New head coach Brian Callahan should have all the tools necessary to compete in the AFC South.

Last season was a phenomenal one for Sneed, who registered 78 tackles, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery in 16 starts. He gives the Titans a layer of protection against the NFL's best quarterbacks, with C.J. Stroud and Trevor Lawrence waiting in his own division. The AFC South is wide open; the Texans went 10-7 to win the division last season. Tennessee essentially moves into poll position with his trade.

It didn't cost them much either. Ran Carthon deserves credit for striking at the opportune moment. Tennessee parted with very little to acquire a talented CB in his prime.

Titans grade: A

For the Chiefs, it's hard to truly complain. The ideal outcome would have been finding a way to pay Sneed, but there's a domino effect at that point. No matter how many times Patrick Mahomes restructures his contract, the Chiefs can't hand out big-money deals without limiting their flexibility for future moves. The front office is walking a difficult tightrope, trying to determine which core pieces are essential, and which are expendable in the face of severe tax penalties.

Kansas City's defense will miss Sneed. We should expect the Chiefs to look for alternatives in the upcoming NFL Draft. Every mock draft has the Chiefs picking a wideout in Round 1, but don't be shocked if the front office ultimately goes with a DB. Defense was the driving force behind Kansas City's championship last season, as great as Mahomes is. If the Chiefs can't generate stops at the same level — or significantly improve the stability of the offense — it could be tough sledding en route to their desired three-peat.

This isn't much of a return, but opposed to letting Sneed walk for nothing in a year, it's a relative win.

Chiefs grade: C

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