3 reasons to trust the Chiefs' plans after trading L'Jarius Sneed

Success in the NFL comes at a cost. For the Kansas City Chiefs, it appears to be one of the league's best cornerbacks. Fortunately, there are good reasons to trust the plan in the wake of Kansas City trading L'Jarius Sneed to the Tennessee Titans.

Kansas City Chiefs Victory Parade
Kansas City Chiefs Victory Parade / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

The NFL offseason is a mysterious creature. The new league year began with a frenzy of activity. One week later, the initial wave passed, and it's been mostly quiet in league circles until news broke that the Kansas City Chiefs had traded star cornerback L'Jarius Sneed to the Tennessee Titans.

The trade compensation for the Chiefs sent a 2025 third-round pick to Kansas City from Tennessee along with a swap of seventh-round picks between the teams in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The Chiefs are in the hunt for the league's first three-peat and their stellar defense was just dealt a blow to its secondary. Losing an All-Pro caliber corner is a curious way to start such a campaign, but general manager Brett Veach has earned the benefit of the doubt. The Chiefs just went through this process when all-world wide receiver Tyreek Hill was traded away to the Miami Dolphins in 2022.

The Chiefs have won two consecutive Super Bowls following that trade so it's worth extending Veach some grace to see how this pans out. In my estimation, there are three significant reasons to trust the proverbial process here.

1. Defensive Coaching

Perhaps the most compelling reason not to panic in the aftermath of this trade, is Kansas City's defensive coaching.

By now, fans of the Chiefs are fully prepared to erect a statue in honor of four-time champion defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. His masterful work with one of the league's top defensive units in 2023 warrants faith in his ability to absorb the loss of Sneed.

Couple that with the fact that Kansas City has one of the NFL's premier position coaches in Dave Merritt and I trust that the secondary will continue humming right along. The team can double down and bring back former secondary coach Sam Madison after his tour with the Miami Dolphins recently ended.

It's worth noting that this coaching staff built one of the league's best cornerback groups with only one Top 100 pick (Trent McDuffie). They've consistently gotten the most of players drafted on Day 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft. Coaching is central to how well their corners have played in this defensive system and is a strong argument in favor of moving on from Sneed.

2. Kansas City's Draft Track Record

What do Joshua Williams, Jaylen Watson, and Rashad Fenton all have in common? Each player was selected in the fourth round or later in the NFL Draft and each has played significant snaps in three championship runs. Cornerbacks are clearly a scouting evaluation strength for Brett Veach and company. It helps that this is another good cornerback class coming out in 2024.

Pro Football Focus has as many as nine cornerbacks ranked in the Top 50 of their annual big board. Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry will be in range for Kansas City late in Round 1 or should they decide to trade down into early Round 2. Kamari Lassiter is another intriguing Day 2 option for Kansas City out of Georgia. With more pressing issues, the Chiefs could wait to backfill corner on Day 3 with players like T.J. Tampa or Ro Terrence.

3. The Cornerback Cupboard

Two years ago when Tyreek Hill was traded, the Chiefs had to turn to free agency for an infusion of talent. There were no legitimate in-house options they could rely upon at the position. As luck would have it, such is not the case in the cornerbacks room. Sneed leaves behind a pair of viable corners to potentially succeed him.

It's still very early in the offseason, but Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson are the frontrunners to replace Sneed as the starter in the 2024 season. Williams was the highest-graded of the two last season according to PFF (73.0 to Watson's 66.1). That said, both players have made significant contributions since being drafted. Neither player has Sneed's ceiling, but with Merritt's coaching, I trust there won't be a significant dropoff in play.

Kansas City also has 2023 draftee Nic Jones and undrafted free agent Ekow Boye-Doe as depth options to compete for more playing time next season. Neither player saw much of the field defensively last year, but could earn more opportunities in the very near future. It's also possible the Chiefs raise the floor of the cornerback room with a veteran signing.

Trades of homegrown talent are never ideal, but they're an inevitable part of having consistent success in the NFL Draft. Thankfully, this is the one spot where it's relatively safe to take a gamble. They've done well to stockpile talent at the cornerback position and have the coaches in place who can get the most out of their young prospects. At worst, the Chiefs have opened up significant cap space to leverage and redistribute resources into problem areas on the roster.

The compensation for this trade is the part that's difficult to wrap my head around, but a 2025 pick could be leveraged, in the forthcoming draft, if a talented player slides past their projected draft position. That's what brought Trent McDuffie to Kansas City and we could see a repeat of that five weeks from now. Again, Veach has earned enough trust for me to reserve judgment and watch this play out.