KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Chiefs finally have some much-needed salary cap space.
They have an opening at cornerback, too.
Kansas City released Brandon Flowers on Friday after three weeks of voluntary workouts in which the former starter was conspicuously absent. Flowers was due to make $5.25 million this season, and he carried a salary cap number of $10.5 million that made him difficult to keep.
Already bumping up against the salary cap, the Chiefs will save about $7.25 million this season and $7.5 million next season. That money could be used to help the team sign quarterback Alex Smith and linebacker Justin Houston to contract extensions.
Both of them are in the final year of their current contracts.
"We appreciate Brandon's contributions to the team over the last six seasons," general manager John Dorsey said in a statement released by the team. "It's in the best interest of the club and the player to part ways at this time. We wish him nothing but the best as he continues his career."
Flowers was the Chiefs' second-round pick in 2008, and he proved to be a dependable starter for them. He started 87 of the 88 games he played over six seasons, making 421 tackles, two sacks and 17 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns.
His production is a big reason why he was signed to a six-year, $50 million deal in 2011.
But under a new regime last season, one that favours bigger, more physical cornerbacks, the 5-foot-9 Flowers gradually lost time to Marcus Cooper and other defensive backs. He wound up playing against slot receivers at the end of the season, and his future in Kansas City has been a subject of debate the entire off-season — especially as he skipped out on the voluntary workouts.
Shortly after he was released, Flowers tweeted his thanks to the Hunt family, which owns the franchise, along with its fans and his teammates "for some great years."
Early in the day, Chiefs coach Andy Reid was asked whether Flowers and Houston — who has also been absent from the voluntary workouts — would attend next week's mandatory minicamp.
"I don't know that," Reid said. "The thing that you're guaranteed of is we're going to coach whoever is here and do our thing here."
While the rest of the Chiefs have avoided talking about Flowers and Houston missing the voluntary workouts, several indicated that they were making "business decisions." But linebacker Derrick Johnson did say that the workouts are valuable in preparing for training camp.
"Mentally, this is the time to get everything down," he said, "so that when we get to training camp, we can move faster mentally on the field so we can show up pretty quick."
In other news Friday, Reid said that tight end Travis Kelce and wide receiver Kyle Williams could do more work next week. Kelce has been out after dealing with a knee injury last season, and Williams has been held out of practice while he recovers from a torn ACL.
Left tackle Eric Fisher remains limited following shoulder surgery, though he appeared to be doing more in Friday's workout. Wide receiver Junior Hemingway was absent with strep throat — he was asked to stay out of the building — and cornerbacks Chris Owens and David Van Dyke and wide receiver Weston Dressler were all out with hamstring injuries.
Running back Jamaal Charles, left guard Jeff Allen and cornerback Phillip Gaines were absent from Friday's workout, though Reid indicated that all of them had been excused.
The offensive line continues to play a game of musical chairs, though Reid said guys are starting to nail down positions. Part of that has been out of necessity with Fisher injured, but part of it has been to increase versatility and build across-the-board depth.
"You know you need more than five. You need to make sure you have a good 10 of them ready to go," Reid said. "You want to find that number and see what you've got there, so we've been challenging them as much as you can challenge them here."
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