Image: Associated Press
As we fly past OTAs into mandatory mini-camps, veteran players are beginning to find their way onto the free agent marketplace.
On Friday, the Kansas City Chiefs officially announced the release of Pro Bowl cornerback, Brandon Flowers, saving the team $7.5 million in cap space in 2014, while pushing $4 million dead money to 2015.
Jets fans’ interest in the corner has been sparked, but would a move to acquire him make sense for the squad? There’s a lot to consider here, beyond need.
Style of Play
Whenever a player hits the open market, prospective teams have to consider a potential addition’s skill-set and playing style, and how it translates to — and complements — the current roster.
When I watch Flowers, I see a very aggressive player. He wants to play like a safety, driving into ball-carriers, finding his home while playing in-space, rather than man-to-man. Even when he does find a receiver to lock onto, he tends to play off, whether due to scheme or strengths, leaving a cushion at the line-of-scrimmage.
Rex Ryan is a defensive wizard, but he does have his tendencies. One of them: corners who play tight man-to-man coverage, who rough receivers up at the line-of-scrimmage and at the point-of-attack.
In mentality, I see a fit; Flowers has the wherewithal to play with the best of them — earning peer respect for a 2013 match-up with Andre Johnson of the Texans, and possessing that extra toughness (video) which may cause a flag or two, but is greater than any negative consequences.
We can safely assume Titus Young deserved that.
Cost of Acquisition
When free agents are considered, costs are going to be considered just as much, if not more, than what they potentially bring to the team. Costs are more than monetary figures — what’s the cost of bringing this player in and foregoing another player’s growth? What’s the cost of leaving a hole on the roster? What’s the cost of bringing in someone with an injury history? Will losing cap space hurt the team during the season if and when injuries occur?
There’s a lot of questions to ask within an NFL front office, that will ultimately be answered during the season.
As far as Flowers is concerned, the New York Jets have the cap space and checkbook to strike a deal with the veteran cornerback. He was originally scheduled to make a base salary of $5.25 million in 2014.
Looking at other corners to be signed this offseason, it’s easy to see why Flowers likely won’t be given that kind of money on the open market.
DeAngelo Hall may be a good financial comparison. At 30 years old, Hall is two years the senior to Flowers, but plays around a similar skill level. Hall re-signed with the Redskins this offseason on a four-year, $14 million deal, with $5.4 million guaranteed.
Flowers is more likely to see a one-to-two year, show-me deal, although competition for the cornerback’s services could force a team’s hands to provide a three+ year offer. I would imagine, however, Flowers receives more than $1.15 in 2014, as is Hall’s base salary.
No Bidding Wars
GM John Idzik has proven himself as a willing, but stone cold negotiator this offseason, and won’t enter into any bidding wars to add to an already talented Jets defense.
Sure, a starting pair of Dee Milliner and Dimitri Patterson/Dexter McDougle will not intimidate the likes of Demaryius Thomas and Brandon Marshall — both of whom are on the team’s schedule this season — but the talent around them may just suffice.
The Vikings and Falcons are among those said to be interested in Flowers, with the Jets remaining hush-hush with any interest (if there) remaining confidential.
Should Flowers start receiving multiple offers, don’t expect the Jets to show up on Adam Schefter’s twitter timeline. They just won’t fight for a luxury; see: Giants’ secondary.
Brandon Flowers is a skilled corner, and could provide a needed upgrade for a team’s backfield. For the Jets, I don’t see it anywhere near a necessity and probably not a strategic roster move.
There is plenty of healthy competition brewing at corner, from former second round pick of the Patriots, Ras-I Dowling, to last year’s fan favorite underdog, Darrin Walls.
All will help push each other to their individual best, while helping the front office retain salary cap space for two important reasons…
1) The Jets were decimated by injuries last season. Should that happen again, they will have real cap space to make smart acquisitions mid-season, in the hopes of sparking or continuing a playoff push.
2) There are some big re-signings on the horizon for Gang Green, highlighted by the expiring contracts of destructive defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, and league-wide underrated contributor, wide receiver Jeremy Kerley.
In summary, keep doing what you’re doing, NYJ, and only push the trigger on a corner when circumstances leave you no choice. Right now, it’s better to continue to build the roster with one eye on today and one eye on tomorrow.