Kansas City, Mo. The first week of voluntary offseason workouts for the Kansas City Chiefs was more notable for those missing from the field than anything that happened on it.
Cornerback Brandon Flowers and linebacker Justin Houston were the only two players to skip the first three workouts, which wrapped up Thursday. Coach Andy Reid refused to discuss the reason they were missing, but he indicated business was to blame.
Flowers gradually lost playing time last season, and his bloated contract could mean the team is trying to restructure the deal or trade him. It also could mean the Chiefs are thinking about cutting him in a move that would free up valuable salary-cap space.
As for Houston, he becomes a free agent after the upcoming season. The Chiefs have expressed interest in signing him to a long-term deal, but they are strapped for cash.
“I’ve been around this a long time, and I understand the business side, and these are voluntary,” Reid said. “I got it. That’s not a distraction. We just focus on the guys, coach the guys that are here, and these guys are working their tails off.”
The Chiefs are also negotiating a long-term deal with quarterback Alex Smith, who is entering the final year of his deal, but there has been little substantive progress.
Flowers is due to make $5.25 million this season, but his salary-cap number of $10.5 million makes him difficult to keep at his present price. If the Chiefs unload him by Monday, they would gain about $7 million, and doing it after the deadline would save about $3 million.
Flowers struggled in the Chiefs’ system last season, which tends to favor bigger, stronger cornerbacks. He was eventually moved to the nickel spot in favor of unheralded Marcus Cooper. Kansas City also drafted a cornerback, Phillip Gaines, to provide some depth.
“Everyone has the dates. Everyone knows the rules (of the workouts),” Reid said. “That’s not where I put my focus. I’ve got a lot of guys that are here trying to make this football team.”
If Reid wasn’t touching the issue, neither was anybody else.
“I’m worried about playing quarterback,” Smith said, when asked about the absences. “To be totally honest, I’ve got enough on my plate, and I think that’s the same for everybody here.”
Veteran linebacker Derrick Johnson said he has spoken to Flowers and Houston, but he made it clear “when it comes to the business part, I stay out of that.”