What if L'Jarius Sneed were available at a lower price for the Steelers?

A team has to pay both the player and the Chiefs to come away with L'Jarius Sneed, but what if the price isn't as steep as expected?

Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs
Cincinnati Bengals v Kansas City Chiefs / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

For any team hungry for a playmaker in the secondary, it's hard to top the production offered by Kansas City Chiefs cornerback L'Jarius Sneed. After wrapping his rookie deal, the Chiefs have placed the franchise tag on him this offseason, but the smoke around the story seems to indicate he's not for long in K.C.

Of course, given the tag, the Chiefs have forced any new team to essentially pay two price tags to employ Sneed. Any new team will want to sign Sneed to a shiny new contract, of course, and likely one for the long-term, which is a heavy cost in itself. However, that team will also now have to pay a toll of sorts to compensate the Chiefs for their loss.

Many NFL teams are reportedly into the idea of adding Sneed even with those hurdles in place, which speaks to the money and assets they have, the need on the roster, and/or the talent that Sneed offers the marketplace. For others, however, the thought of paying a team to then also a player might be too much—including the Pittsburgh Steelers.

A team has to pay both the player and team to come away with L'Jarius Sneed, but what if the price isn't as steep as expected.

But what if Sneed wasn't going to cost as much as expected?

Surely, if the Steelers were intrigued enough by Sneed's talents to be linked to him via early rumors, the issue isn't with paying the player, although that amount will certainly be high. Sneed's guaranteed a paycheck of just under $20 million this season based on the tag ($19.8M) and a long-term contract will likely land north of $16M annually.

Ponying up a significant draft asset along with such a payday would likely make the Steelers back off of taking the Sneed route to solve their cornerback ills. And some rumors circulating say that the Chiefs want significant compensation for losing Sneed. But wanting it and getting it are two different things in the NFL.

Here's the truth: keeping Sneed for the short- or long-term would hurt the Chiefs financially as they try to go for a third consecutive Super Bowl. They're currently trying to fit Chris Jones on the payroll alongside Patrick Mahomes and company and there's a reason Sneed is even available like he is.

Cornerback is also not the same as a pass rusher or quarterback or even left tackle in terms of positional value. While other players have brought back a first or second round pick in such a tag-and-trade, Sneed is not worth the same. That's not a knock on his skill-set, which is considerable as one of the league's most well-rounded and physical defensive backs. Rather it just means the Chiefs know they have to be realistic about what they're going to get.

As rumors fly that Chiefs general manager Brett Veach wants a second-round pick, that likely means he knows he'll have to settle for a third or maybe a couple of day three picks. What if Sneed could be had for a single pick at No. 84 overall? Would that not be worth a significant upgrade to the secondary? What other investment could Pittsburgh make in the third round to make a proven leap forward on defense?

Yes, it comes with a price in both draft assets and payroll, but if a team is already this interested in a player where the salary is fine, then sending over a mid-level selection in a single draft shouldn't be an untenable hurdle. Maybe the Steelers aren't quite out on Sneed after all.