Despite reports that the Pittsburgh Steelers had legitimate interest in obtaining the services of former Pro Bowl cornerback Brandon Flowers, it never seemed very likely that anything would actually come of it, and yesterday he signed a one-year contract with the San Diego Chargers, making the discussion wholly irrelevant.
ESPN reporter Field Yates reports that the deal that Flowers signed can be worth up to $5 million, though $2 million is included in Not Likely To Be Earned incentives, meaning if they are ultimately earned, that value would count against next year’s cap.
Given the Chargers’ limited cap space, the $3 million cap hit this year minus displacement would seem to put them right near their cap limit, so presumably they will have to make, or already have made, further moves to create more breathing room.
The Steelers, meanwhile, could have afforded to pay Flowers’ salary. That much is true. But would it have been worth their while? Hardly.
Not on a one-year rental. The Steelers’ needs at cornerback this season are not nearly as significant as some believe. The vast majority of the concerns are raised over the imminent retirement of Ike Taylor.
But Taylor isn’t retiring this season, so this isn’t an issue for 2014, but rather for 2015. And having Flowers on a one-year rental does little to help the situation.
Unlike at safety, where Mike Mitchell was able to step right in and integrate into the defense, Flowers would not have been able to do that at cornerback.
As Jim Wexell suggested, he likely would have been expected to be the fourth cornerback, for a number of reasons that don’t make it worth a $3 million investment with no guarantee of future returns after the season.
For starters, Dick LeBeau and Carnell Lake simply like the cornerbacks that they already have in Taylor, Cortez Allen, and William Gay, the latter of which is coming off his best season. There is no immediate need to upgrade any of them for this upcoming season.
At the same time, it would be no small task for Flowers to learn and comprehend the Steelers’ defense by joining the team in late June and being ready for September. Mitchell has been with the team since March, in contrast.
Finally, the team has a number of young, unproven cornerbacks on their roster that they need to learn about. Before they know what they have in these players, taking action in looking to replace them could be premature.
The reality is that, for the role that Flowers would have likely to been asked to fill in 2014, the team has plenty of candidates that could potentially fill that vacancy. And with no guarantees that he would be willing to re-sign and transition into the starting lineup a year later, the one-year value simply doesn’t seem to be there. Flowers was coming off a down year, and seems to be looking for that ‘prove it’ contract. The Steelers were just not in that market, nor the position, to offer it.