FAITH IN YOUTH
It is clear Reid and Dorsey are focused on throwing their young secondary into the fire. Should guys like Gaines, Parker, Cooper, and Sanders Commings make the team as expected, nearly half of the Chiefs secondary will consist of players with virtually no experience in the NFL. That’s only made more extreme of Daniel Sorensen and David Van Dyke make the roster.
There are reasons to have faith in the skills of Cooper, Gaines, and Commings, given their tools and some of the things they have displayed in the past. Gaines is one of the more physically gifted cornerbacks coming out of the draft, Commings is loaded with speed and athleticism, and Cooper was the Chiefs best corner for about half of 2013. But with youth comes inconsistency, which is something we can all expect to be taken advantage of when KC faces Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Russell Wilson, and Colin Kaepernick. There were many reasons to cut Flowers but the Chiefs will miss his stability and experience at cornerback.
The good news to take from this is the Chiefs are in some ways following the model of the Seahawks, who were loaded with young players in the secondary. None of Seattle’s five primary secondary players – Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Walter Thurmond, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor – had more than three years of experience in the NFL before last season. Four of those five, Browner being the odd man out, were drafted in 2010 or later, with Chancellor and Thurmond being fifth round draft picks. It isn’t out of the question for the Chiefs young secondary to develop quickly as a unit.
Still, counting on large steps from guys like Cooper and Commings is at tough thing to count on. And even if they both took those steps forward, their ceilings may still not be high enough for the Chiefs to reach they level they need to be successful as a team. Losing the “known” in Flowers puts a lot of pressure on guys like Cooper to become something that he may to be capable of becoming.
It is clear Dorsey thinks the young group of corners and safeties his acquired is capable of being successful now. Much will be made of the salary cap space saved by letting Flowers go now, but the reality is the Chiefs could have easily signed Smith and Houston to extensions and kept Flowers on the team for one more season (at least). Cutting Flowers is more of a sign of Dorsey’s faith in his youthful secondary than it is a financial maneuver.