According to several reports, the San Diego Chargers have signed former Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers to a one-year contract. Terms of the deal are yet to be disclosed. Flowers, who signed a $50 million deal with Kansas City in 2011, had been one of the better pass defenders in the NFL for a number of years, but in 2013, his stats fell off mightily as defensive coordinator Bob Sutton and general manager John Dorsey preferred outside cornerbacks larger than the 5-foot-9, 187-pound Flowers.
So Flowers spent far more time in the slot than he ever had before, and that did not go well. Flowers was targeted 48 times in 272 slot snaps last season, allowing 345 yards, one touchdown, no picks and a 96.3 opponent quarterback rating. Overall, he allowed 64 receptions on 96 targets for 846 yards and four touchdowns with just one pick. The Chiefs released Flowers on June 13 in a move that will save them about $15 million total in cap dollars over the next two seasons.
''We appreciate Brandon's contributions to the team over the last six seasons,'' general manager John Dorsey said in a statement after the release. ''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.''
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For San Diego, it's a simple case of, "We can't do any worse." The Chargers ranked dead last in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted defensive metrics in 2013, and 31st in overall defense. Before the 2013 season, they let Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason go, promoted Shareece Wright to starter and signed Derek Cox from the Jaguars. Wright did pretty well for a guy who had never started a game before 2013, but Cox was a disaster -- he was benched multiple times, and the team chose to take a multi-million cap hit and release him as opposed to further developing him. The Chargers selected TCU cornerback Jason Verrett in the first round, but Verrett is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum.
If the Chargers put Flowers outside and keep him there, it could go a long way toward putting their pass defense back at league average. Defensive coordinator John Pagano prefers a system in which cornerbacks don't always play extreme press (sometimes to their detriment -- Cox was a horrible off-coverage player), and Flowers still has good trail speed and route awareness. For Pagano, this is a gift out of nowhere.
Selected in the second round of the 2013 draft out of Virginia Tech, Flowers has amassed 17 interceptions for three touchdowns in his career, as well as 92 passes defensed and 328 tackles.
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The 2013 Pro-Bowler had 63 tackles in 13 games last season and was one of the more highly sought after defensive free agents this offseason, reportedly receiving interest from 10 teams, including the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers.
SI Wire staff contributed to this report.
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