The Kansas City Chiefs' biggest spring shoe finally dropped Friday, as the team released veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers, a defensive mainstay for the past six seasons.
Brandon Flowers was released after spending the past six seasons with the Chiefs.
Howard Smith / USA TODAY Sports
By Sean Keeler
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- So what's the end game, here, other than John Dorsey standing there with the bloody smock and the cleaver in his hand? A new contract for Justin Houston? An extension for Alex Smith? Cabanas in the south end zone at Arrowhead?
Because let's be clear: Cutting Brandon Flowers wasn't so much a Flowers thing -- although there are conflicting reports as to how well No. 24 fit the Kansas City Chiefs' new regime -- as it was a money thing.
Namely, Houston and Smith want more of it. Now.
The interesting part, the really interesting part, of Friday's big news out of Arrowhead Drive wasn't so much the Chiefs release-a-Pro-Bowl-corner bit, even if that's the one that caused fans on Twitter to start fashioning little 140-character nooses. It's what happens next. Or rather, what big happens next.
In whacking the 28-year-old Flowers, who was due to make $5.25 million this fall, the Chiefs reportedly gained $7.25 million (depending on whether Flowers actually pocketed a $250,000 workout bonus) in cap space for 2014 and another estimated $7.5 million in '15.
And this is the nut graf here -- the bottom line, the numbers with the greatest significance. According to OverTheCap.com, the Chiefs went into Friday with an estimated $3.36 million in salary-cap space for this season. Which ain't much wiggle room, really, when you're believed to be negotiating an extension with Smith, your Pro Bowl quarterback, and Houston, your top pass rusher of a year ago. Both are in the last year of their respective contracts, one of several headaches Dorsey, the club's general manager, must juggle at the moment.
So, big picture, Dorsey's getting there.
Or, at least, he'd better be.
Because let's be clear on this, too: In no way are the Chiefs in a better place, football-wise, competitively, than they were at the start of the week. While Flowers seemed to be a square peg where defensive coordinator Bob Sutton was looking for round holes, the former Virginia Tech standout was also the Chiefs' best cornerback during a forgettable 2012, notching a +13.7 rating overall with a +9.8 in coverage from the scouts at Pro Football Focus (PFF).
Point of comparison: Last season, PFF graded safety Eric Berry at +14.5 overall, cornerback/nickel back Ron Parker at +4.7, safety/nickel back Husain Abdullah at +2.9, cornerback Sean Smith at +0.9, cornerback Marcus Cooper at -3.0 -- and Flowers at -5.9.
While the Chiefs have been working with Cooper and Parker as the first-team corners during organized team activities, Smith -- who was demoted after his arrest on DUI charges earlier this week -- is expected to return to his starting position in the fall. And Flowers is expected to land with either his old pal Scott Pioli in Atlanta or old mentor Romeo Crennel in Houston. The world keeps spinning.
Mind you, it's spinning a little faster now for Cooper, who took little steps forward every week last fall -- followed by about six huge steps back whenever Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers or Andrew Luck happened to be on the field at the same time.
Parker is a scrappy unknown, accent on the unknown. Chris Owens is on his third team in a year and fourth team in 20 months. Phillip Gaines is a rookie -- a fast rookie, granted -- out of Conference USA.
Which means Smith, who was notoriously up and down himself last fall, is, as of Friday afternoon, the Chiefs' designated "shutdown" corner.
Flowers cut that's crazy chiefs must got some corners we don't know about lol