Brandon Flowers, Chris Houston become cap casualties

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Chiefs and Lions made surprising moves Friday, releasing mainstays from their respective defensive backfields. The reason isn't surprising, however: The teams needed money.

A pair of excellent cornerbacks hit the free-agent market Friday. The Kansas City Chiefs announced the release of 2013 Pro Bowler Brandon Flowers at about the same time the Detroit Lions announced they are letting go of Chris Houston. Both players spearheaded their respective secondaries -- an excellent secondary in Flowers' case, and a mediocre one in Houston's. Both cuts were seemingly motivated by money:

In the Chiefs' case, it appears the organization is looking ahead to pending contract extensions. Flowers was set to cost $7.25 million against the cap next season, and $7.5 million in 2015, a number the Chiefs decided they couldn't afford with Alex Smith and Justin Houston scheduled to hit free agency after the 2014 season. Arrowhead Pride also pointed out that the 5'9 Flowers was not a perfect scheme fit.

Houston can perhaps blame his release on rookie Eric Ebron, at least in some part. The first-round draft pick has yet to be signed, and prior to Houston's release the Lions had just $1.33 million in free cap space. Rather than go through the arduous process of restructuring contracts, the team has decided to make a clean break with a player it had signed to a five-year extension in 2013.

Unsurprisingly, Houston's release caught Lions fans off guard. Pride of Detroit noted that Houston struggled with injuries last season, however, and drafted Darius Slay in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft presumably so he could become a No. 1 corner. The Lions will save $1.3 million against the salary cap in 2014, and $3.9 million in 2015.

Flowers' release will save the Chiefs even more. His departure could have a big impact on the defense though. Replacing Flowers, for now, appears to be Marcus Cooper, a seventh-round draft pick who the Chiefs picked up off waivers just before the start of the 2013 season. He will be flanked by Sean Smith on the opposite side of the field. Cooper played well last season, and the Chiefs' defense should be a fine unit once again.

Flowers is already being missed, however:

So long to one of the most dependable, durable Chiefs

Flowers has been a mainstay with the Chiefs since the 2008 NFL Draft when Kansas City made him a second round pick out of Virginia Tech. Flowers dropped in the draft because of his supposed lack of speed and the Chiefs were there to reap the rewards.

Flowers started at least 13 games in every year of his NFL career. He played well enough after being drafted to secure a $50 million contract extension in the 2011 season.

He was a good Chief.

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