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L’Jarius Sneed Trade Talks Hit Significant Hurdle

The Pittsburgh Steelers are interested in L’Jarius Sneed but a knee injury could throw a curveball in everything.



Pittsburgh Steelers CB L'Jarius Sneed
Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed (38) gets set on defense in the second half of an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Peter Aiken)

The Pittsburgh Steelers have expressed interest in Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, sources told Steelers Now at the NFL Combine. And while the ask is a second-round pick, Sneed has a complicating factor that could throw a curveball in everything.

According to Tony Pauline, Sneed suffered a knee injury in the season that forced him to trudge through the rest of the season, and that could raise significant questions in trade talks.

“I have learned from numerous sources that Sneed has been dealing with a knee injury that prevented him from practicing for long stretches last season,” Pauline wrote. “This type of medical issue will surely raise red flags for any team wanting to employ Sneed with a big-money contract. Any trade will certainly hinge on an examination of the injury.”

Kansas City has informed Sneed that they will  franchise tag him, unless the sides can work out an arrangement on a  long-term contract. If the Chiefs can’t sign Sneed, they play to tag and trade him according to Jordan Schultz of Bleacher-Report.

Sneed’s franchise tag contract will be a one-year deal for $19.8 million, but he is seeking a long-term contract. The Steelers would be able to negotiate an extension with Sneed after trading for him, or he could play under the tag in 2024 and become a free agent in 2025. Sneed could also refuse to sign his tag and sit out the season, like Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell did in 2018.

Kansas City general manager Brett Veach said on Tuesday at the 2024 NFL Combine that his goal is to sign Sneed to a long-term contract. If that fails, it doesn’t seem likely that the Chiefs will want Sneed to play out the 2024 season at the tag amount, considering their other major free agent, defensive tackle Chris Jones, will also cost them a lot of money this coming season. The Chiefs currently have approximately $9.2 million in offseason salary cap space.

“Certainly we want to do what we can to try to keep both those players and that’s going to be our goal and intent,” Veach said. “Hopefully we’re able to figure something out. But every free agency is different, unique and crazy. We do have one tag, and I anticipate probably using it to help us. But I think our goal is to try to get both those players done and then work down the rest of our roster.”