The Kansas City Chiefs cut ties with veteran cornerback Brandon Flowers Friday.
Who is he? Brandon Flowers was a six-year starter for the Chiefs. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time last season. Flowers gets his reputation as being a tough, scrappy player. Lets weigh the pros and cons should the Chargers pursue the Pro Bowl cornerback.
1. The more cornerbacks the better: The Chargers ranked No. 29 in pass defense last season, allowing the fifth-worst quarterback rating. They couldn’t stop the big play; they couldn’t keep the opposing offense off the field (ranked 28th in rate of moving the chains against); heck they probably couldn’t take candy from a baby if they tried. Their top four cornerbacks in 2013-Shareece Wright, Derek Cox, Richard Marshall and Johnny Patrick-ranked 102nd, 104th, 101st and 94th out of 110 eligible cornerbacks, per Pro Football Focus. They did play better down the stretch, but something had to be done when you make a back-up quarterback like Chase Daniel look good. The Chargers did make progress by cutting Cox after one season, drafting Jason Verrett with the 25th overall pick in 2013 draft, and signing former Bengals third-rounder Brandon Ghee (who’s injuries have gotten the better of him thus far). As of now, the Chargers carry 10 cornerbacks on the roster. Adding Brandon Flowers, who is only 28 years old, would create more competition, and more competition can’t hurt.
2. Flowers can regain form in the right system. Flowers has 17 interceptions, 377 tackles and four forced fumbles in his career. Not only that, but he has three pick-sixes. According to Fox Sports via PFF, Flowers was the Chiefs’ best cornerback in their dismal 2012 season, scoring a +13.7 overall grade with a +9.8 rating in coverage. He dropped off in 2013, grading out at -5.9 overall and ironically a -9.8 coverage grade, his worst since his rookie year (2008). What happened? One of the reasons Flowers played poorly could have been his move to the nickel corner position after playing on the outside for the majority of his career.
He also wasn’t a great fit in new defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s scheme, which relies a great deal on press-man coverage, and Flowers struggled both outside and inside. – Taylor Perez, Kansas City Star
Flowers could fit in Pagano’s zone scheme where he can excel in off-man coverage, giving opposing wide receivers a cushion. He lacks ideal speed (4.55 40-yard dash time), but the Chargers have speedsters in Verrett and Steve Williams. The tandem of Flowers/Verrett COULD be a potential upgrade.
3. Playing against your rival. In 2013, the Chargers parted way with veterans Louis Vasquez, Shaun Phillips and Quentin Jammer. Where did they all retreat to? The Denver Broncos. Yes, the Broncos were-and still are-in win-now mode, and they have been on a free-agent spending spree in 2013-14. Money, as well as a championship-built team were idealistic for all three to join the Broncos. But do you know what has to have gone through their minds at least once: playing against the team that cut/did not re-sign you to try and get the best of them. You could say Phillips (led the Broncos in sacks) and Vasquez (made the Pro Bowl) succeeded. I can see Flowers having a vendetta against the Chiefs and signing with an AFC West foe.
1. Will Brandon Flowers demand top dollar? He was due to make $5.25 million in 2014. According to OverTheCap.com, the Chargers have an estimated $2,527,934 of available cap space, which isn’t much room for spending. Whether he wasn’t a fit for Sutton’s system or it was a money issue that led to his release, Flowers is still talented. You also have to look at it from this angle; since Verrett was drafted with the first pick and Wright penciled in as one of the starters, Telesco might not be willing to pay Flowers starting-caliber money. Don’t forget about 2013 fifth-round rookie Steve Williams who is coming back from injury and possibly pushing for the starting role. Unless something drastically happens where Verrett has a major setback, Telesco won’t bite.
2. Will Telesco shy away after Free-agent bust Derek Cox? In his first year, Tom Telesco made a “big free-agent splash,” signing Derek Cox to a four-year, $20 million deal. Cox was brought in to be one of the starters after four decent years in Jacksonville (notched 12 interceptions). Well, we all know how that panned out. Cox was cut after one season and received $10.25 million in guaranteed money. This could essentially scare off any chance of signing another free-agent cornerback.
3. Will size matter? In the NFL today, teams are trying to copy the Seattle Seahawks-style defense: draft/use taller cornerbacks. Bigger corners can handle taller, more physical receivers that play on the outside. I believe that notion is overrated as undersized corners have gone on to have successful careers (see Grimes, Brent), and even have the highest vertical jump (see Verrett, Jason). But the reality is Brandon Flowers is 5-foot-9, and even though he has proven he can play on the outside, the Chargers already have three smaller corners in Verrett, Williams and even Marcus Gilchrist (all listed at 5’10 or under). If the Chargers were to sign Flowers, Verrett/Williams would most likely end up playing solely in the slot (unless Wright fails to impress) and not get the chance to play on the outside. Mike McCoy has already voiced his confidence in Verrett playing outside.
“Size doesn’t matter to him. He’s a tough, physical football player.”
Well ladies and gentlemen, the facts are on the table. What’s the verdict?