Lions Named Top Trade Destination for $19 Million Chiefs Cornerback

Getty Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed.

The Detroit Lions didn’t quite get the secondary upgrade they were hoping for last offseason when they made a pair of high-profile additions in free agency, but could be ready to take another big swing this offseason.

After cornerback Emmanuel Moseley and safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson — both signed last year with the hopes of boosting the team’s struggling secondary — were lost for the majority of the season due to injury, a new report suggests that the Lions have their eyes on another big-name defensive back. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler named the Lions as a top candidate to trade for Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L’Jarius Sneed, who appears to be headed to the trade block.

Lions Called ‘One to Watch’ on L’Jarius Sneed

Fowler reported that the cornerback market was getting quite a bit of buzz at the NFL Combine, with Sneed seen as one of the biggest potential targets. The Lions could be one of the top contenders should the Chiefs decide to move on from the fifth-year defensive back.

“We know the Chiefs are working on a potential tag-and-trade with L’Jarius Sneed, and multiple teams are believed to be in the mix there,” Fowler wrote. “The word out of Indy is that Detroit is pretty set on adding a high-end corner, so the Lions are one to watch. Miami is worth keeping an eye on, too.”

The Chiefs are already working on one part of the equation. ESPN’s Adam Teichner reported on March 4 that Kansas City officially placed the nonexclusive franchise tag on Sneed, paving the way for a potential deal. If Sneed signs the tender, he will be on a one-year deal worth $19.8 million.

Teichner reported that the Chiefs hope to keep both Sneed and defensive tackle Chris Jones on long-term extensions, though it could be costly. Sneed is coming off his best season since joining the Chiefs as a fourth-round draft pick in 2020 and regularly drew the toughest assignments, the ESPN reporter noted.

“Sneed covered the opponents’ top receiver on at least 65% of the snaps a league-high seven times during the regular season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats data,” Teichner wrote.

Lions Seen as Top Landing Spot for Chiefs DB

Others have seen the Lions as a strong suitor for Sneed if the Chiefs follow through with a trade. Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport named the Lions as a top landing spot, suggesting that Sneed could help bolster a secondary that still struggled in 2023.

“The Detroit Lions came within a game of the franchise’s first Super Bowl last year,” Davenport wrote. “But the team’s 27th-ranked pass defense was a major liability all season—largely because the cornerbacks in Motown were average on a good day and awful on a bad one.

“L’Jarius Sneed’s 2023 season was anything but average. One year after piling up 108 total tackles, Sneed’s coverage play excelled—he allowed just 51 percent of the passes thrown in his direction to be completed, with a passer rating against of just 56.2.”

The Lions could have a need for more help in the secondary as they may be losing Gardner-Johnson, who has reached the end of the one-year contract he signed last offseason. ESPN’s Fowler reported that the Philadelphia Eagles have an interest in bringing back the safety who helped them reach the Super Bowl in 2022.

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