The Kansas City Chiefs valued cornerback L'Jarius Sneed as a "franchise player" with a fully guaranteed $19.8 million to start the 2024 NFL offseason. This week, they agreed to part with him for essentially a single 2025 third-round draft pick, also swapping seventh-rounders to send the star cover man to the Tennessee Titans. So what changed? Or did the Chiefs never believe Sneed warranted a lucrative investment? Here, we're exploring three reasons the reigning champions got so little in return.

1. The Chiefs weren't set to pay Sneed long-term

Chiefs safety Justin Reid said ahead of Super Bowl LVIII that Sneed was "easily" his most underrated teammate and deserved lucrative recognition this offseason. But one of the reasons the Chiefs have repeatedly returned to the title game is their willingness to make tough decisions and reset expensive positions around core pieces like Patrick Mahomes. They did it with Tyreek Hill in 2022, sacrificing a star playmaker for an avoidance of said player's market-pacing contract demands. They're doing it again here; it's not a coincidence reports of Sneed's exit included overt mention that the Titans will be giving their new corner a new deal.

2. Sneed is older, and his star replacement is already in place

Age isn't everything; the Chiefs, after all, just paid big bucks to Chris Jones, who will be 30 this summer. But Sneed is a bit older for a player seemingly just hitting his prime; he was 23 as a rookie, and he would've been 28 coming off the 2024 tag. And unlike up front, where the Chiefs don't have a readymade successor for Jones along the interior, the K.C. secondary already includes 23-year-old Trent McDuffie, who's arguably the club's top cover man after a second-year breakout in 2023. The team also has a recent history of successful cornerback turnover, developing Sneed to justify letting former starter Charvarius Ward walk in free agency.

3. CB is a volatile position, and it may be losing some value

More than perhaps any other spot, cornerback tends to be home to serious year-to-year variability, with even esteemed cover men like Jalen Ramsey and Stephon Gilmore and Darius Slay enduring big-play slumps. And while an elite corner is still a premium asset in today's NFL -- see: Sauce Gardner, Patrick Surtain II, etc. -- this year's free agent market was also particularly dim, with only two veterans securing deals averaging at least $10 million per year. Not a single free agent corner also secured a deal longer than three years, reiterating the long-term unpredictability of the job.