Kansas City Chiefs: Malcolm Bronson

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- At their latest practice, the Kansas City Chiefs lined up with second-year player Marcus Cooper as their top cornerback, veteran journeyman Ron Parker as the other starter and developmental player Malcolm Bronson as the nickel back.

It's only June and offseason practice, but regardless of the time of year it's not a good look that the Chiefs are having to dig deep into their depth chart to line up at a crucial position. It got even uglier when wide receiver Donnie Avery got behind Parker in practice to catch a long touchdown pass from quarterback Alex Smith.

One of the normal starting cornerbacks, Sean Smith, has been dropped to second team after his recent arrest for DUI. Smith will eventually be back in the starting lineup, but an NFL suspension for violation of the substance abuse policy looms with him.

The other starter, Brandon Flowers, hasn't been participating in offseason practice and it's unclear whether he will show for next week's minicamp, the only mandatory event of the offseason, or even for training camp. The usual nickelback, Chris Owens, is out with an injury.

So while the start of training camp is more than a month away, it's not too early to be alarmed with what's going on at cornerback. The Chiefs ask much of their cornerbacks. They play a lot of press coverage and are often left without much help from the safety. It's not ideal for the Chiefs to have backups in their starting lineup at those positions or be forced to back off the way coordinator Bob Sutton wants to play because they do.

Maybe Flowers eventually shows up, Smith gets promoted back into the lineup and Owens returns healthy. Then the Chiefs can relax at cornerback. Until all of that happens, they need to be concerned.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Moving on with our roster series to the secondary, where the Kansas City Chiefs have big money invested in a couple of their players.

Roster (15): Husain Abdullah, Eric Berry, Malcolm Bronson, Sanders Commings, Marcus Cooper, Quintin Demps, Brandon Flowers, Vernon Kearney, Kendrick Lewis, Jerron McMillian, Ron Parker, Dunta Robinson, Kevin Rutland, Sean Smith, DeMarcus Van Dyke

Potential 2014 free agents: Abdullah, Demps, Lewis.

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.