Off-season Practices Start Without Houston, Flowers

From the Truman Sports Complex

It always happens.

When a team gathers for the first time in a season, fans and media end up focusing attention on the players that are not participating, rather than those that are on the practice field.

Such was the case Tuesday as the Chiefs began their OTA practices. Thoughts in the Chiefs Nation were not of the 84 players on the field for the first practice. Instead, the focus was on two absent defensive starters and a starting quarterback that was present but still does not have a new contract with the club.

Missing were two key defenders: left (strong) outside linebacker Justin Houston and left cornerback Brandon Flowers. No explanations were available for their no-show status at the beginning of the voluntary off-season sessions.

Quarterback Alex Smith was there, and ran the first-team offense, but negotiations on a long-expected contract extension with the Chiefs do not appear to be making progress. The club and Smith’s agent Tom Condon have been talking since the first of the year when team chairman Clark Hunt publicly called a new contract for the quarterback an offseason priority. The deal Smith brought with him from San Francisco runs through the 2014 season.

“Absolutely, I do,” Smith said Tuesday when asked if he was confident a deal could be reached by the opening week of the regular season. “That stuff gets figured out.”

His head coach agreed.

“There’s open communication with both parties,” Andy Reid told the NFL Network on Tuesday morning. “I’ve always believed that when there’s open communication good things happen, so I’m sure something will get done. I can’t put a time frame on it, but I’m sure something will get done.”

Houston and Flowers were both Pro Bowlers last season and their names were frequently in the off-season Chiefs conversation about a new contract (Houston) and possible trade/salary cap casualty (Flowers). As the on-field work began Tuesday, Houston did not have a new deal or extension and Flowers was still on the Chiefs roster.

Both players did not answer requests to explain why they missed the start of the voluntary practices. Just two weeks ago, Flowers sounded like he was ready to get back to work with his teammates.

“If I lack and slack, the whole team’s going to follow my lead and I can’t let my boys down like that,” Flowers told the website “We’re brothers out there, and we have one goal—to get a ring. Whatever I got to do, whatever those other guys who’ve been there got to do, we’ve got to put it on our shoulders.”

The Chiefs have butted up against the salary-cap ceiling through the offseason and Flowers was discussed as a possible cap casualty. He carries a $10.5 million cap number this season from the six-year, $49.3 million contract he signed in 2011. Moving him off the roster this year would create $3.5 million in cap space, but also $7 million in dead money.

Right now according to NFL Players Association accounting, the Chiefs have $3.6 million available under the cap.

“I know business is business,” Flowers said about the talk of being traded or moved off the roster. “It could’ve been just talk; it could’ve been real. The thing is, if I would’ve got traded, you don’t really know it until it comes up on TV. It’s not like they give you a warning ahead of time. You find out when everybody else finds out. So you can’t get too wrapped up in it.”

Despite not playing in five games last season due to an elbow injury, Houston matched Tamba Hali’s team leading 11 sacks. The 2011 third-round draft choice is in the final season of his rookie deal and scheduled to receive the fourth-year veteran minimum of $645,000 from his four-year, $2,786,248 million package.

7 Responses to “Off-season Practices Start Without Houston, Flowers”

  • May 27, 2014  - el cid says:

    Anyone – why is Fisher not playing yet.

  • May 27, 2014  - ED J says:

    He’s still recovering from shoulder surgery el cid. Flowers is gone. Not ideal fit for Sutton press man scheme coming off his the worst yr of his career. With the signing of Owens to play in the slot and drafting of Gaines who I’m high on its only matter of time now before Flowers is cut. I’m sure his agent telling him stay away from OTA’s while Chiefs work out a trade or his release.

    Either way Chiefs need the cap space to resign both Houston & Smith so this been brewing since the start of the off season

  • May 28, 2014  - milkman says:

    Does anyone else remember how hard it was to get Houston’s signature on his first contract?

    Reports at the time were that he was seeking first round money after being evaluated higher than the third round by several “experts”. And as it turns out, they were right. Trouble is, he screwed himself on that first contract by testing positive for marijuana at the combine.

    My point is that he’s been difficult to sign in the past and now that he’s outplayed his rookie deal, I’m wondering how Dorsey and company are going to get Houston and their starting quarterback to sign new contracts with under 4 million left under the salary cap. Houston doesn’t look like the kind of player who would give the Chiefs any kind of home town discount. Maybe this is one of the reasons Dorsey drafted Dee Ford instead of the corner from Michigan State.

  • May 28, 2014  - Niblick says:

    Milkman -I think Ed J may have answered your question regarding signing Smith and Houston. They have to clear some cap space either by trading or releasing Flowers. I suppose they may have some other options.IE-Restructing Berry and Hali and backloading Smith and Houston,s contracts. That only postpones the problem to next year. They have some tough decisions to make.

  • May 28, 2014  - ED J says:

    I think Berry gets a new deal which would lower his cap number. Hali I think like Albert last yr playing his last yr as a Chief before Ford takes over full time. Both of those moves would give Chiefs more cap flexibility as well

  • May 29, 2014  - milkman says:

    For his size, I think Flowers has been an above average cornerback. But he just doesn’t seem to be able to stay healthy for long stretches of time. Having said that, I still think he’s been a little overrated over the years he’s been here. If the kid from Rice can come in and show something, maybe EdJ is right and they’ll find some cap space by moving Flowers. I just wonder how much moving will create the room necessary to sign Smith AND Houston.

  • May 29, 2014  - cychief24 says:

    Tough decisions ahead for Dorsey/Reid thanks to peeolee’s horrible drafting.

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