Cutting Brandon Flowers Would Be A Mistake

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January 25, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers (24) during the 2014 Pro Bowl Ohana Day at Aloha Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Brandon Flowers has yet to show up for any of the Chiefs organized team activities, leading to rumors Flowers days in Kansas City could be numbered. The former 35th overall draft choice by the Chiefs had what was perceived by fans as his worst season of his career but still earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Flowers value to the team may not be what it once was but it does not mean he doesn’t still have a valuable role to play in Kansas City’s new aggressive defense. Cutting a player of Flowers’ level would be a mistake for the Chiefs if they want to continue to build off of the momentum they created in John Dorsey and Andy Reid‘s first season.


There are three things to note about Flowers’ 2013 performance than him being asked to play man-coverage exclusively.

For the last four years Flowers has played almost exclusively on the left side against an outside receiver. Pro Football Focus’ data says Flowers has just one start from 2009-2012 that wasn’t at left cornerback and that was a 2009 game against Washington. During that time Flowers perfected his role and wasn’t asked to do too much beyond his little corner – no pun intended – of the field.

Sutton, wisely, is a guy who would rather play match-ups. The result was Flowers learning two new positions – right corner and slot. Like Eric Fisher found flipping from the right side to the left side, Flowers found the adjustment to moving around the field to be a little more complicated than just going to a different spot. Add in that Flowers was being to play man-to-man coverage almost exclusively for the first time in his professional career and it would make sense for Flowers to struggle in certain situations.

Personnel also played a big factor in Flowers’ play. Flowers should be starting in the slot in Sutton’s system but there was nobody to replace him on the outside.

It shouldn’t be stunning to learn at this point that the Chiefs love big cornerbacks on the outside to combat the big wide receivers that are starting to occupy those outside wide receiver positions. What is notable about slot receivers is most of them are not the towering 6-3 types who you’ll find on the outside.

Wes Welker (5-9), Percy Harvin (5-11), Randall Cobb (5-10), Dexter McCluster (5-7), and Danny Amendola (5-11) are all considered to be among the better slot receivers in football and all of them are under six-feet tall. Flowers matches up well against all of these receivers in terms of physical abilities, so it would make sense to move him to the slot.

The problem was the Chiefs did not have anyone to play on the outside. Sean Smith occupied one outside corner spot but there wasn’t anyone to replace Flowers. Marcus Cooper was very good for half a season and it allowed the Chiefs to bump Flowers inside for a while, but Cooper hit a wall in the final month of the season.

One final thing is Flowers was much better last season than you would think. A quick glance at Flowers’ overall PFF grade and you’ll see he tallied a -4.2 overall grade (including the playoffs). Terrible, right? This is below average play by PFF’s system and when you match it with what Flowers is making it makes Flowers one of the biggest under-performers on the team.

The problem is that grade is skewed heavily by three games – the home games against Dallas, San Diego, and Denver. What do all of those games have in common? Flowers was matchup in man-coverage situations against Dez Bryant (6-3), Keenan Allen (6-2), and Eric Decker (6-3). Man-coverage plus receivers who almost have a half-a-foot of size on Flowers is not going to equal good things no matter how you dice it.

Take those three games out and Flowers has a +5.1 overall grade. While I understand you cannot just take out the bad games because the bad games did indeed happen, if the Chiefs were playing with an ideal roster Flowers would never have seen a snap on the outside against Bryant, Allen, or Decker. Eliminate those three games and the Chiefs and Flowers leaps from being the 87th ranked cornerback by PFF to being in the top 30.

All of this should viewed through the prism that Flowers was playing injured through most of the season.

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  • mnelson52

    I would prefer to keep Flowers. I would like to see how much he has improved at the slot. I thought he was playing it better towards the end. If they could trade him for a second rounder though, it would be hard not to do although I think it would hurt us in 2014.

  • Reggie Flenory

    Cutting him, trading him, waving him how ever you slice it not having flowers will be a huge mistake period we need good corners in this divison especially one with his experience

    • John Walsh

      He definitely wasn’t the problem last year and to cut him would compound the problems with the secondary. Not only that, they have to improve the pass rush because no secondary can last long without the defensive front putting pressure on the QB.

  • area

    good article! I agreed with everything until I read page four. Our salary cap situation is tense but it is under control. Flowers tutoring our young secondary, his skill set on the field, and his locker room presence is more important than the 14.5 million the Chiefs would save in the next two years (I realize his exact salary, compensation, and cut savings are all debatable). Trading Flowers for a second round 2015 pick is ‘those two birds in the bush are better than the bird in my hand’ thinking.
    The Chiefs finally have some quality depth at cb so they are going to cut/trade their bestest, most experiencedest player at that position when this year’s cap is under control and have 11 picks in the next draft? Makes zero sense to my small mind.

    • tm1946

      I like your comment but…. he does not fit the Sutton style or at least, that is what many in the media here and other places say. Not sure that is a ringing endorsement for his “tutoring” our secondary. Besides who says he is willing or capable of teaching anything. In the day, Babe Ruth tried to be a manager, big time bust. He seemed to be a fair player in his day but that was all he could do.

      • area

        the media seems to be oblivious to the idea that although Sutton seems to employ a high pressure defense Smith and Cooper were both playing 5-8 yds. off of the los for the majority of plays. Meanwhile Flowers was basically in the trenches playing bump and run. Maybe Smith and Cooper are the wrong fit, not Flowers.
        As far as tutoring the younger players, the more and better competition in training camp, the better the development of all- not the other way around.
        And hey, I love me some Ruth, but the day of pro players living off of beer and hot dogs is long gone, much has changed.
        I enjoyed your response sir, thank you.

        • tm1946

          Quick PS, everytime I think or get reminded of Ruth, I really want a hotdog with the yellow mustard we used to get at the old baseball stadium in KCMO.

        • Bigtexjayhawk

          You hit the nail on the head. Every time Smith lined up close in a bump and run situation he wldnt bump him. I called it the “run” coverage. Then of course the QB would lob the pass down the sideline for an easy 25 yard completion. I wanted Revis. He would fit well.

  • Hawthorne

    Some reasons we may want to get rid of flowers now. 1. Owens is a talented career slot CB who doesn’t have to learn anything new and costs half of Flower’s cap 2. The sooner we can start extending people the better, as the cap rises so will the deals and we need to start creating space now for 2016 when most of our best players will be FA. 3. If we cut flowers now, we could structure Smith’s deal to get rid of the guaranteed money sooner by giving him a bigger cap hit now or in 2015. This has two advantages, if we keep Smith, we can give him a smaller cap in 2016 when we need to sign everyone, and if Bray or Murray is ready to go, we will have less dead money tied up in Smith when we trade him.

    • berttheclock

      I really wonder about the Owens pickup. I believe he was brought in more for depth than trying to start him. Cleveland dumped him and Miami picked him for one game. The word in Brownsville was he had a great training camp, then, began to disappear during the season. At five nine, I don’t believe the Chiefs brought him in to play outside. He had three years with the Falcons and he might have discovered his own “Fountain of Youth” in Miami, but, until the hard hitting regular season begins, who knows?

      • Calchiefsfan

        Flowers is a much better CB than Owens. I’d like to see the Chiefs retain a high level of talent and remain competitive. What if Owens turns out to be this years Dunta Robinson?

      • Hawthorne

        No. He won’t play outside (neither should Flowers), Owens did however grade out at a 2.2 on PFF better than any of our CBs last year. Just sayin. Flowers isn’t a great outside CB in this system and you don’t pay someone 10m to play the slot.

  • berttheclock

    Excellent analysis, but, you forgot to mention Alex Smith, so, there will not be as many comments, but, perhaps as shown by Hawthorne, area, Reggie Flenory and mnelson52, far more intelligent ones.

  • Chris Tarrants

    Flowers offers a lot to this defense, not just in his play which has been stellar for the most part throughout his career but also his leadership and his experience that he can pass down to Cooper and the young group coming in. He did have a few bad games this year but in fairness if the Manager in LA asked Clayton Kershaw to play center field for a year I’m not so sure that he would be winning any awards. It takes time to learn a new position and people who say a corner is a corner couldn’t be further from reality. With all that said IF someone offers a first or a second rounder for him then I think Dorsey would have to pull the trigger. It’s a funny thing to even think about but getting one or more draft picks for him on top of all those comp picks next year and we will be able to have a draft like never before!

  • berttheclock

    My biggest question for the Chiefs Nation is why is Sutton being given such a pass? Yes, there were crucial injuries to his defensive unit, but, it appeared to me that he, either, refused to change and adjust his methods or he really did not know how to do so. Yes, during his career, he trained under several fine defensive minds, but, this was his first true test as being a defensive co-ordinator. So, just bringing in new talent to the defense may not be the answer. Nor would releasing Flowers be the answer if indeed it is really Sutton who is the problem.

    • A1 Yola

      I feel the same as you. Anyone else would’ve had some questions to answer.

      • freshmeat62

        Ditto! As far as I’m concerned, the ball is in Sutton’s court now. He’s been given lots of new toys to play w/. Hopefully he uses them wisely.

    • area

      Sutton had all season to adjust and failed miserably to do so. The better coaches out there use the resources on hand and scheme to their strengths. An example being the Denver Broncos with Tebow at QB. Tebow had zero business winn

    • mnelson52

      Sutton ran about the same defense that the Hawks did. He just didn’t have the personel to make it work like they did. I’m not sure what adjustments he could have made when they had no pass rush and the secondary wasn’t fast enough to keep up. Plus they had to cover for too long of a time. Flowers did get better and now knows the system. I think we should keep him because we now have depth at that position. If we release him this year we are back to little depth, and we know how that worked out last year. Next year Gains will have a year experience and we will have somewhere around 11 picks to get a couple replacements, but I do think we need Flowers this year. Of coarse it is possible that he has already been told that he will be traded or released which would explain his not being at OTAs

    • Reggie Flenory

      The first half of the season was rose,rainbows, and lolli pops no one question sudden when our defense was malling people sudden plays and aggressive and i do mean aggressive 3-4 4-3 hynrid with a single high safety this defense means two things 1 all of your eggs one in one basket up front in a 8 man box 2 your secondary is all alone with very little help now when your front 7 is getting pressure forcin the qb to make rushed throws, interceptions and sacks it works flawlesslybut when u dont get pressure ajd the qb finds the soft spot quickly (peyton manning) then the wr gets yac no matter how good the corners are they cant cover crossing routes and rub route well in this scheme because you only have help up top (single safety) so u combine houston and hali injuries with no apass rush which this scheme is predicated on and offensive coordinators adjusting the defense fell off but bob is still a great def coordinator now he has more players that fit his scheme better

    • Calchiefsfan

      He was actually the Jets DC from 2006-2008 with very average to below average results. I’m not sold on Sutton at all. We’ll see this year but I’m not holding my breath. If the Chiefs defense plays at anywhere near the level it did the second half of the season it’s going to be a tough one for us fans. I’ll try to remain ever the optimist and hope that the added personnel will make the difference.

  • A1 Yola

    I think Flowers plays like a young C. Bailey. Same size and passion. The Chiefs will surely miss Him.

  • freshmeat62

    Except for the trade scenario, I think I’d hang onto Flowers for this season. He’s a good corner, and w/ the addition of a FS that can cover some ground, that should help not only Flowers, but the whole secondary. To me the development of the FS is going to the key to the secondary being good.

    • mnelson52

      I think the key to the secondary is a good pass rush like we had the first half of last year. With a good pass rush, we didn’t even know our secondary sucked.

  • freshmeat62

    To what you said in the little note at the bottom of page 2, I can just hear Howard Cosell if he were calling that game – “down goes Manning, down goes Manning, down goes Manning…”!

  • Kisersosay

    Your point about those three games show why the Chiefs (And others) want tall corners. Significant advantage in todays NFL. This is why I would like to see Hemmingway some in the slot to take advantage of shorter corners playing that position if possible.

    • berttheclock

      Tall corners have become the rage due to tall wide outs utilizing fade passes. It wasn’t too long ago when NFL QBs would check off any wide out on the sidelines with double coverage. Now, the newer QBs throw back shoulder fades. At least, that is the explanation given by Mike Mayock.

  • Josh Rose

    I think if we are going to part ways with him at some point then we should try and get some picks or a player Reid could develop. I don’t really think Flowers will play hard this year if he knows he will end up else where. Why would he risk getting hurt and loosing money?

  • Josh Michaels

    A lot of good points made but, it’s too many “if’s”. They should just simply cut him and move on. They’ve already planned a future with out him so don’t delay the inevitable. Cut him now, let him choose the team he wants to sign with and the Chiefs have $11.5 million in cap space.

    Great stuff as Always, Ben!

    • Ben Nielsen

      There are a lot more “ifs” that come with cutting Flowers.

      • Josh Michaels

        I suppose but the plan seems to be layed out already. Flowers is a good corner but he’s expendable especially with a salary number like that. it’ll be interesting to see what happens.

        • Ben Nielsen

          Oh, there’s definitely a plan, he’s likely gone. I’m just saying the plan is flawed :)

          • Josh Michaels

            “In Dorsey We Trust” hahahahaha

  • Melvin Howell

    I think Flowers will bounce back this year and play as good as he ever has. You have to remember that he was playing all year with injured feet. Have you ever tried to run with your feet hurting? Considering that I tink he did a decent job last year. Hopefully the Chiefs don’t make the mistake of getting rid of him because I think he still has several great years left in him.

    • KCMikeG

      Good point. Those that are ready to write him off need to remember it was a new system, he missed all of training camp, he switched positions and was playing hurt. He will be a valuable part of our defense this year.

  • jimfromkcj

    Ben, no one is saying Flowers is a bust. the fact of the matter is that he is not worth what he is getting paid. Just explain to the class how you can deal with the cap without cutting some of the higher paid players. Some times you have to face reality, and either he, Hali, Bowe or Berry or all of them have to go. Or are you foolish to believe any of these highly paid prima donnas are more valuable to the team than Smith and Houston.

    • berttheclock

      “Prima Donnas”???? , Geez, jimfromkcj, at 76, I was taught to respect my elders, but, your comment is bull pucky.

      • jimfromkcj

        I call anyone who doesn’t give an equable amount of work or effort for their pay, prima donnas. If you think Flowers, Hali, Bowe or Berry are playing up to their pay check, I feel that you are willing to continue down a 40 year path of mediocrity. I am pissed off no end and I see no end of it if we continue to rubberstamp whoever Clark brings to town. It was clear to me that Pioli was a clown from the git go, but I had to listen to all the butt kissers who call themselves fans for far too long how great the Patriot way was and w were just a player or two from the super bowl. That’s your horse pucky..

        • berttheclock

          Jim, this is an entertainment business whose leader is paid over $40 million by the very rich owners. These players give their bodies to provide we the fans with entertainment. I do not begrudge them one thin dime. You have a hard on against Dorsey and Reid because you wanted Marty and Al Saunders. Fine, but, you continue your vendetta against anything Dorsey does. You wanted to see him fired after he extended Bowe, when, the fact of the matter, he was left with no choice, but, to pay him more than Vincent Jackson and less than Wallace. Dorsey did not set those parameters, but, that was what he faced when he needed to keep our only legitimate wide out. Perhaps, Bowe has not put up the numbers, as yet, to justify his contract, but, it is what it is and don’t knock him for the system. I have nothing against the play of the four you mentioned. Berry had come off some very serious injuries. Flowers was injured and he fought through it and tried his best to play a completely new position. He was playing very well in the early part of the Colts game, before suffering another injury. Hali played equally well until he was injured. The NFL is a violent game and injuries happen. Get off your personal vendetta against Dorsey and Reid. Clark Hunt was cheap early on and Pioli was a disaster in his scouting, drafting and personnel management, including being a walking horror to those in the front office who had to serve under The Great Benito M II. The Chiefs are blessed with Dorsey and Reid due to Clark Hunt realizing his mistake. BTW, he did ask Marty for advice and those two are a result of Marty’s answer.

        • Kisersosay

          you need some therapy…..

  • Calchiefsfan

    We finally get to a point where we have the talent AND the coaching to be a good team. Now everyone thinks they’re a GM and says get rid of the talent they’re costing us too much! This is where Dorsey earns his money. Restructure some deals, get rid of some of the lesser players that aren’t a good value and I hope Dorsey keeps the core talent intact. That includes Smith, Hali, Houston, Flowers, Hudson, Berry etc. Releasing Avery, DeVito, Daniels and Succop you wouldn’t have to let Hali and Flowers go and still have plenty to keep Houston and Smith. That’s without having to restructure anyone to a more cap friendly extension.

  • Calchiefsfan

    I forgot to answer the question which was the title of this post. NO! Do not cut him!

  • Stacy D. Smith

    Cutting Flowers next season would make more sense. Saves 7.5 million dollars after 2014.

  • cyberry

    A couple or so years ago it would seem crazy or foolish to have so much invested in a “slot” (3rd corner).. but the slot has become a major part of the offense. The slot receiver used to be come in 3rd down and long in most cases. Now.. a 1000 yards season for a slot isn’t given much thought.. So loading up that CB does make season, especially since its a quarterback major quick dump off when the heat is on,

    • berttheclock

      This is why John Elway says the nickle back is the 2nd most important position on a team. It is due to the many excellent slot receivers, In the SB game, it was the nickle back of the Seahawks, Walter Thurmond, who really disrupted the inside receivers of the Donkies. One other myth foisted by some posters at this site has to do with drafting smaller players. One fellow said that led to losing. Of course, he forgot to mention the five five 177 pound Trindon Holliday of the Broncos who has had several very long TD runs from kickoffs. Now, he has moved on to the Giants, so, that must mean the Giants are going to continue to lose. But, then, they, also, picked up Thurmond so that might end up being a push.

  • Blaize Richardson

    Great article. I agree completely. Cutting Flowers before the start of this season would be a mistake. One of the positives our defense has going for it is the versatility of our players. Flowers is a clear example of this. I can’t think of another CB who is so well equipped to play the slot, that also has as much experience on the outside as Flowers. Brandon has played great his entire career. Last year may have been a down year for him, but he still wasn’t as bad as some made him out to be. He had some very good games last year.

  • thabear04

    Dont forget we need to sign Berry also

  • Adrian Morales

    Flowers did not deserve to be a pro bowler this year but every other year before minus 1 he was legit one of the best corners in the league maybe still the best corner on this team… Why not look into cutting Sean smith instead recall the San Diego game with 1 minute 7 seconds all plays to his side for the game winning touchdown… The colts game…

  • tmahawk

    Hey flowers ever heard of reconstructing your contract. If he gets cutt its because he want to be.. Anyone who wants to be cutt I say do it. Plenty of team players have done what it takes to make their team better. Hali you to.

  • Jason Williams

    Perhaps some FS play that didn’t completely suck would have helped Flowers during his transition? Look, if Flowers isn’t completely healthy at least try to get SOME compensation for him. Cutting him outright with the Chiefs secondary being all but a mystery at this point is absolute lunacy. You will clear negligible cap space by doing so, and certainly nothing that will help KC pay Axl the Assistant Game Manager.

  • e_racer

    I don’t know if he will be cut, but he should be. The Chiefs need to pay Alex Smith and Justin Houston more than they need Flowers in this defense. He is a good player, but he is playing in the wrong season. Flowers has great anticipation, and good leaping ability. Those attributes compensate for his less than adequate size, and less than desirable speed. He is not worth the money the Chiefs are set to pay him if he stays. Much more, he is definitely not worth messing up the opportunity to lock in Justin Houston to a longer deal. The Chiefs caught a break when they drafted Houston, due to his off the field issues. However, he has been a model citizen since suiting up on day one, and is worthy of being paid as the first round draft pick he was slated to be before testing for marijuana.

    The Chiefs can do more with pressure up front than they can with defensive backs. Flowers’ contract is about to come up, and the Chiefs are likely to lose him anyway. If they trade Flowers, they will not benefit as much in the salary cap. They need all the space they can get this year and next to stay in progress. Look at what happened to the Chiefs when Houston and Hali went out mid-season. The Chiefs stumbled, and never really recovered.

    I wish B Flowers well. He will get a lot of money to play somewhere. It’s time for a reality check. He is gone.