Boy, the Pittsburgh Steelers have been anything but quiet during the offseason in 2014. They have been a very active team, and the end of June could prove to contain some excitement surrounding the potential signing of former Kansas City Chiefs corner Brandon Flowers. As usual, ‘the regulars’ have their opinions in the papers and on the telly. And of course, we can’t forget everyone and their Uncle Donnie on Twitter having an opinion. I decided to look elsewhere and seek out some opinions from someone who’s had a chance to watch and follow Flowers for numerous years.
One of the biggest questions surrounding Flowers is why was he released from the Chiefs in the first place. Was it money? Salary cap? His knee injury? I reached out to the Editor of FanSided’s Arrowhead Addict, Ben Nielsen, for his thoughts on Flowers:
There are three reasons why Flowers was cut: Salary cap, fit in the defense, and his knee. If I were to weigh those three reasons in terms of importance I’d put it around 50% money, 40% fit, 10% knee injury. Kansas City is dealing with some cap issues… so releasing a guy with a large cap number who didn’t quite fit the man-heavy defensive scheme made sense. The Chiefs can use his money to lock down Alex Smith and Justin Houston instead.
This is encouraging to hear because my first hesitation with Flowers was health and attitude. For the sake of argument, Flowers was cut rather late in the process, which made many scratch their heads. What was wrong or what went wrong? Sounds like the brass in KC just couldn’t work any cap magic and go after signing two of their top players without having to bring out the axe. It’s also encouraging to hear that someone like Nielsen feels that Flowers’ knee is not really the issues and makes a good point. “Flowers was slowed by a knee injury and foot injury the past two seasons, although I don’t think the injuries are serious,” Nielsen notes, “The list of defensive backs who are over 28 years old and don’t have something wrong with a knee or foot is very, very short.”
How very true.
This is Flowers first time floating along the waters of free agency. He’s 28 as of this past February, and you have to be thinking that this guy will want his payday because it might be his only opportunity to get one. Nielsen agrees, “[T]his is the first time he’s ever been a free agent and it is probably his best/last shot he has to get a big pay day. [sic]” But Nielsen also contends that Flowers wants to sign with a winner since the Chiefs have gone 36-60 with an 0-2 playoff record during his time with the team. The Steelers have their own frustrations of late, and have back to back 8-8 seasons. But, the Steelers have a long standing tradition of being very competitive and winners. Should he sign a long term deal with Pittsburgh, then he could see some of that promise land if the team can rebound and rebuild quickly enough. I wonder how he feels about potentially returning to team with Todd Haley as a coach?
Flowers is a good corner. A Pro Bowl caliber corner. He would fit the Steelers defense well as he is more comfortable playing in that same type of defensive scheme. Swell. But, as Nielsen points out, Flowers carries the same kind of flaws as the Steelers top two corners already have – matching up with tall receivers. “The issue with Flowers is if he gets paired up with a tall receiver like A.J. Green and he’s not getting help over the top then he’s going to be in a lot of trouble,” said Nielsen, “This is basically a situation Flowers saw himself in a lot against Eric Decker and Dez Bryant, who each destroyed him.”
Thus is the crux of whether Flowers would even be a viable match for the Steelers. Sure his playing style matches, and he seems to have the right attitude. But, no matter how you slice things up, Flowers will want some big bucks. That will be hard to come by for the Steelers as of this moment, and do they really want to be paying top corner dollars to a guy who is stuck somewhere between Taylor and Allen? Or even Allen and Gay? The Steelers could certainly use his run stopping ability, something else Nielsen listed as a positive attribute. But if he is not an every down corner (and doesn’t sound like it since he can’t cover the likes of A.J. Green) and lacks the ability as a consistent splash play corner (17 interceptions in six seasons, though that’s more than Taylor, Allen, or Gay), then he might be a little too highly priced to land himself in a Black & Gold jersey.
Who knows. Perhaps the Steelers will find a way to sign Flowers and find a way to fit him into the scheme. That Week 16 matchup just got a bit better if that would be the case.
I just don’t see it happening, even if it has blessings from a long time Chiefs fan and expert.