The position: The Chiefs have much invested in strong safety Eric Berry and cornerback Brandon Flowers. Both are Pro Bowlers this season. Berry, who will count about $11.6 million against their salary cap in 2014, played like one this season. He is perhaps the best strong safety in the NFL but he comes at a cost. His contract is the one he signed as a rookie under the old collective bargaining agreement in 2010, when those selected near the top of the draft were paid like stars.
Flowers didn’t play like a Pro Bowler for much of the season. He will count $10.5 million against the cap this year, a figure far too high for what the Chiefs received from him in 2013. The Chiefs should keep Flowers unless a better alternative comes along at a lower price, an unlikely scenario. Still, Flowers is one player who must do better in 2014.
Elsewhere at cornerback, the Chiefs have Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper. Smith is a capable veteran. Cooper started his rookie season by playing well and then faltered over the season’s second half. Having another capable backup at corner wouldn’t hurt. Berry is the only safety with much experience so the Chiefs have plenty of work to do there. Lewis was the starting free safety last season, but his contract is up and the Chiefs shouldn’t give him big money. The Chiefs liked Commings, a fifth-round draft pick last season, before he broke his collarbone early in training camp. It ruined his rookie season but don’t be surprised if he’s the starting free safety next season. The Chiefs would be wise to bring back Abdullah and Demps as backups if the price is reasonable. Abdullah can play some nickel corner if needed.
The Chiefs should keep: Abdullah, Berry, Commings, Cooper, Demps, Flowers and Smith.
The Chiefs should dump: Bronson, Kearney, Lewis, McMillian, Parker, Robinson, Rutland and Van Dyke.
Free agency/draft priority: The Chiefs will need some more bodies here for depth if nothing else. But they don’t need to spend a lot or use a high draft pick on a defensive back.