Flowers Move Is The First Falling Domino For Chiefs

So you’re not happy that the Chiefs cut Brandon Flowers on Friday. That feeling is understandable; Flowers has been a good to very good player for the Chiefs defense over the last six seasons.

But how would you feel if the Chiefs still had Flowers, but not outside linebacker Justin Houston? What if Flowers was still wearing his No. 24 and the Chiefs were without quarterback Alex Smith?

That’s the situation the Chiefs faced as they attempt to build a consistently successful roster and do it within the limits set by the league’s salary cap. In this day and age, a team can’t keep all its good players and pay them accordingly. Decisions must be made. Sometimes they are distasteful, but it’s part of business in the NFL.

The release of Flowers came when it did so the Chiefs could split the so-called “dead money” on their cap to be used in the 2014 and 2015 seasons. That’s $7 million, divided by two years, so Flowers will still count $3.5 million under the team’s cap in the next two seasons.

Flowers carried a $10.5 million number under this year’s salary cap, so releasing him will free up $7 million cap dollars. According to the NFL Players Association, the Chiefs had $2,632,465 remaining under the cap. Add $7 million and the Hunt Family franchise now has close to $10 million.

Whether that’s enough to get Houston and/or Smith signed to a contract extension is debatable; pass-rusher money and the dollars paid to starting quarterbacks are so big that it’s hard to soften the cap blow even in the first year. However, Houston and Smith are still under contract to the Chiefs for the 2014 season, and that provides a launching point for handling extensions under the cap.

It will not be long before Flowers has a new employer. It’s not every day that Pro Bowl cornerbacks are available on the open market. If there’s anything the Chiefs failed at doing in this situation it was getting something for Flowers. But given the terms that he carries under the 2011 contract he signed, no team was willing to take on that financial hit at this point of the league year.

A starter as soon as he walked in the door as the 35th player selected in the 2008 NFL Draft Flowers was in the starting lineup. Joined by fellow cornerback draft choice Brandon Carr, they came through their rookie season and developed into two of the better corners in the AFC. Flowers was rewarded last season with a trip to the Pro Bowl, one of 10 Chiefs that played in the all-star game.

His ticket to Hawaii was punched after the 2013 season but had more to do with his performance in previous seasons than what he did last year. In the 14 games he played (including the playoffs against the Colts), Flowers was thrown at 102 times and opponents caught 68 of those, or 66.7 percent. They averaged 13.9 yards per completion, with five touchdown passes. On those plays, opposing quarterbacks had a 101.6 passer rating.

In the 2012 season quarterbacks completed just 50 percent of their passes against Flowers, averaging 12 yards with a 65.6 passer rating.

Was last season an aberration or was it an indicator that Flowers was no longer an ascending player, but headed in the other direction? He’s 28 years old and in his six seasons Flowers played all 16 regular season games only once (2011). It’s not like his injuries kept him off the field, as he missed just eight games in his career. But Flowers played with a lot of injuries because despite his 5-9, 185-pound frame he threw his body around like he was much bigger and stronger.

The release of Flowers was foreshadowed back in May when the Chiefs selected cornerback Phillip Gaines in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Whether Gaines gets into the starting lineup in his first season like Flowers did back in 2008 remains to be seen. It appears at this point that Marcus Cooper will fill the role at left corner, at least to start the season. Gaines and veteran Ron Parker will battle for playing time there as well.

It’s obvious what the Chiefs have been working on since the end of last season. They wanted to extend the contracts of their starting quarterback and best pass rusher. They knew at least one high-priced player on the roster had to go to free up room under the cap to have any chance to work the extension(s) under the 2014 cap. Finally, they understood that whatever position would be tapped to lose a starter would need a potential replacement in the pipeline.

That’s where the Chiefs sit right now. Dropping Flowers and getting nothing in return only makes sense if Houston and/or Smith soon get a contract extension and Phillip Gaines can play cornerback at a high level in the NFL.

14 Responses to “Flowers Move Is The First Falling Domino For Chiefs”

  • June 13, 2014  - ChuckXX says:

    I find it very hard to believe that the mgmt. couldn’t have gotten something in return for him rather than just cutting him loose. I wonder how hard they really tried to find a trade partner. Obviously during the draft would have been the best time to do it. It seems to me that they screwed up but nobody of course is going to say that. Getting nothing for him seems ridiculous.

  • June 13, 2014  - TimR says:

    Not a surprise…

  • June 13, 2014  - Craig says:

    The problem with getting anything for flowers was his salary. No one was willing to pay that much for him. He is a good corner but not at that cap number. We will sign for a lot less. Another Pioli cap casualty.

  • June 13, 2014  - cychief24 says:

    Chuckxx- read Bob’s article again.
    Craig is correct. The contract Peeolee signed Flowers to was over priced. The cap numbers were too high for any team to trade anything for him.

    I wonder if the Chiefs will give me a partial refund for the Flowers jersey my kids got me 2 years ago? ;-)

  • June 14, 2014  - Niblick says:

    As stated by others, no team was going to trade for Flowers because of his salary. He is now a free agent and teams can now sign him for much less. He will get a good salary, but not as much he would have gotten from the Chiefs. By the way, I read the Falcons have been monitorng him since he was rumored to be cut or traded. I woudn’t be surprised if that is where he lands. Pioli has already signed Jackson and Asomoha.

  • June 14, 2014  - R W says:

    This is the current reality for NFL teams. Anyone making 8 figures or close to that amount, and viewed replaceable by cheaper talent is on the clock to be moved off the roster. I always liked what Flowers brought to the team but time and money march on.

  • June 14, 2014  - el cid says:

    I say most fans have a good handle on what is happening to Flowers and the Dorsey Chiefs. The team has to be what Reid feels is necessary for his vision, guys go and come and go. Not sure why we went thru last year but junking the roster will let Dorsey/Reid bring in their own talent.

    Hey, RW, who is the “cheaper talent” on the roster to fill Flowers place? I get the need for money, sign Smith and Houston, need big bucks. If they do not sign (if I were them I would not, the open market will pay more than Chiefs can afford), seems we will be short a better than average frist stringer.

    My question would be when will the “new” Chiefs come together, if we have to replace Hali (with Ford), and possibly others, are we talking years or what?

  • June 14, 2014  - ED J says:

    Flowers move makes sense. No longer was a fit for the scheme. Chiefs running a press man corner that has size strength & athleticism. Flowers was a better fit for Romeo zone defenses & Herm’s cover 2 scheme. Made sense on both sides its no coincidence he had his worst yr of his career in this scheme.

    Preety telling when Chiefs signed Chris Owens & then drafted Phillip Gaines. Owens though is undersized as well is better man corner & is around price range u want from a nickel corner.

  • June 14, 2014  - Ernie Barney says:

    Back in Answer Bob #4 Bob correctly ID’d/predicted the Flowers situation and cap impact of his release. Clearly the Chiefs continue to clean up after Peeolee mis-management.

  • June 14, 2014  - ED J says:

    Wasn’t a mismanagement anytime there is a regime change their will be cap casualties because certain guys may not fit new system. Doesn’t mean they aren’t good players though

  • June 14, 2014  - Dave71 says:

    Flowers is a good player, but not a great player. He got burned way too many times. I have always felt that he was overrated and overpaid. He is good in run support, though; a tough tackler for his size. Pioli just overpaid him in that last contract.

  • June 14, 2014  - txchief says:

    It’s too bad, but players and their agents regularly price themselves out of a job. The players think that they should be paid big bucks for what they’ve done in the past. The teams are more interested in what they will do in the future. If the player fails to live up to his promise and the expectations that a large paycheck command, they’ll be shown the door.

  • June 15, 2014  - kc arrowhead says:

    I always liked Flowers as a player; tough, team leader kind of guy, but I agree with Dave71′s assessment. They have Smith on one side; Cooper and Gaines have everything you look for in press-man cover corners. Owens is a good slot guy. Parker has looked pretty good, and I believe one or both of the Van Dykes (David and De Marcus) will surprise. It’s also true that if you have a dynamic pass rush, it’ll be that much easier for the DB’s to be effective, especially in the Chief’s scheme.

  • June 15, 2014  - ED J says:

    Like said Flowers jus not a good fit for the scheme. Doesn’t mean he isn’t a good corner or was overpaid. I mean Hilton did go byzerk when Flowers got hurt. Otherwise Flowers shut him down. Had he been healthy Chiefs probably would have won that game.

    Either way wish Flowers the best because I loved him as a player. But its better for both sides. Gives younger corner opportunity to continue to get better who are better fits for the current scheme.

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