Commentary: Kansas City Chiefs Should Have Paid Brandon Flowers

All-Pro corner finds himself jobless after coach Andy Reid decided to look for cheaper option.

Posted: 06/16/2014 11:54 AM EDT
Brandon Floweres

Brandon Flowers is more gracious than he should be. Flowers, one of the elite defensive backs in the NFL, found himself on the jobless line last Friday, though he won’t stay unemployed long.

He was victim of a limiting salary cap that forces players to accept less money than they are worth. So he’s now a former Kansas City Chiefs corner, which led him to tweet:

Just want to say thanks to the Hunt family for the 6years in Kansas City thanks to the fans and my teammates for some great years.

In a league where passing is the preferred way of moving the football, men like Flowers are priceless. Just look at the mega-salaries of All-Pro corners Darrelle Revis and Richard Sherman. They’re making as much cash as some starting quarterbacks, and both men are more valuable than some quarterbacks who do make more money than they do.

That goes for Flowers, whose ability to lock down wide receivers has given the Chiefs a powerful defense. If they are to repeat their 2013 success under coach Andy Reid, they won’t do it solely because of Alex Smith, whom the Chiefs seem bent on overpaying.

They declined no, they refused to pay Flowers his worth. They figured that corners are easier to find than quarterbacks. Reid and the Hunt family might be right if only they had a quarterback worth paying a premium for.

In Smith, they don’t.

Yet let’s not talk about the underwhelming Smith, a former overall No. 1 pick. Let’s talk about a league that has created billion-dollar franchises at the expense of Black stars like Flowers, who, relatively speaking, are playing for minor-league money.

He was scheduled to make $5.25 million, according to various reports. That number was too pricey for a team that wanted younger and bigger players at the corner.

The Chiefs will have no problems getting younger; they will have no problems getting bigger as well. But the Chiefs will have problems aplenty getting better, because corners like Flowers aren’t found in the low rounds of the draft or in a shallow but pricey pool of free agency.

Somebody else will fish him from there, some team that values quality players over price tags. Flowers will find a lot of teams that are willing to invest in skills such as his, and he will get his worth or close to it.

But that’s what must trouble NFL players. They risk so much during their careers in hopes of getting a paycheck that will make the risk seem worth it. Instead, they find their success bittersweet.

Their success might come with all the recognition a star athlete would ever want, but too often they don’t cash it in. Sherman’s illusion of a contract proves that point well. The published number of his contract is $57.4 million; the guaranteed portion of it is $40 million.

Of course, Flowers, 28, could live with either number, but he deserves the bigger number and more. For in a league that puts more of a premium on young and cheap, stars are a liability, a truism that Flowers discovered when he demanded his worth and get kicked aside instead.

How does a contending team like Reid’s build for the long haul behind a policy of letting skilled cornerbacks like Flowers, who played through a knee injury last season, go, simply because it refuses to pay them?

That surely seems like the wrong way, but that’s surely the NFL way.

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(Photo: Stringer/NFL/Getty Images)

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