The Kansas City Chiefs released Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers on Friday after reportedly being unsuccessful in trading the fan favorite before the NFL Draft last month. The team announced the move via Twitter (@KCChiefs).
Chiefs General Manager John Dorsey issued a statement on the team’s web site. “We appreciate Brandon’s contributions to the team over the last six seasons,” Dorsey said. “It’s in the best interest of the club and the player to part ways at this time. We wish him nothing but the best as he continues his career.”
The move was not shocking to anyone who paid attention to signs from the front office this off-season. Despite making the Pro Bowl last year for the first time, it was evident that Flowers’ skills were not the best match for Defensive Coordinator Bob Sutton’s defense.
Pro Football Focus, which grades every NFL player on every play of every game during a season, was not enamored of Flowers’ skills in 2013, They graded him poorly with a -5.9 score overall and a -9.8 in coverage skills. That contrasted with his performance in 2012, where Flowers received a grade of +13.7/+9.8 respectively in former head coach/defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel’s scheme. Pro Football Focus also notes that Flowers played more than half his snaps in the slot in 2013, far more than at any point in his career. Prior to last year, he played almost exclusively as a left cornerback (LCB).
Rumors are circulating that perhaps the team gave Flowers a head’s-up to the situation early this off-season when they selected Phillip Gaines in the third round of the draft. Whispers got louder when Flowers did not show up for the recent voluntary mini-camp, even though he took part in virtually every off-season workout throughout his career with the Chiefs.
And, to his credit, Flowers responded well to the news on his Twitter account (@BFlowers24), thanking the Chiefs and their fans for a good six years, “Just want to say thanks to the Hunt family for the 6 years in Kansas City thanks to the fans and my teammates for some great years.”
But in the end, this move was as much about salary cap room as supposed diminishing skills or scheme match-ups. Flowers was set to make a base salary of $5.25 million this season, which would have made him the seventh-highest paid corner in the league. By releasing him now, the team can split the cap hit over the next two seasons, giving them more cap space to perhaps sign linebacker Justin Houston or quarterback Alex Smith to contract extensions.
However, don’t feel too badly for a 28-year old cornerback with solid (at worst) cover skills that is unemployed in mid-June. Flowers now has his pick of teams to play for and with the Pro Bowl resume from last year, won’t have to be cutting coupons to save some bucks anytime soon. Some team will scoop him up ASAP.
Perhaps the Atlanta Falcons – and former Chiefs GM Scott Pioli – anyone? Or, heaven forbid, the Denver Broncos or Oakland Raiders?????
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