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    • michael89156

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      It's time to size up cornerback shuffle June 30, 2014, 9:02 PM ET By John Clayton | ESPN.com fb194d38-a3bf-4e77-9cf3-6066f7a569c7_zps5649443c.pngAlterraun VernerThe Kansas City Chiefs' release of Brandon Flowers illustrates the changing philosophy at the cornerback position. Copying the Seattle Seahawks -- who won a Super Bowl going with tall, man-to-man cornerbacks and letting them operate behind a great pass rush -- the Chiefs want corners who are 6-foot or taller. Flowers is 5-foot-9. Even though he is coming off a Pro Bowl season, Flowers became expendable because of his $9.75 million salary and not being at the Chiefs' new height mandate. The San Diego Chargers quickly signed Flowers to a one-year, $3 million contract. To clear roster space, the Chargers released 6-1 Brandon Jones, who was then claimed on waivers by Kansas City. Watching the cornerback market this offseason has been fascinating. The Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars head the list of teams trying to get taller at the position as NFL head coaches adjust to how the game is changing on offense. Wide receivers coming out of college are taller. More teams are incorporating pass-catching tight ends. A tall receiver or a tight end going against a short corner is a tough matchup. Adjustments needed to be made. shuffle1_zps30c3d461.pngJamie Squire/Getty ImagesThe 5-foot-9 Brandon Flowers became expendable despite playing at a Pro Bowl level for Andy Reid in Kansas City. Let's study a few of these bold moves. 1. The Chiefs may have given the Chargers their biggest missing piece on defense. Last year, the Chargers struggled with Derek Cox, Shareece Wright and Richard Marshall at corner. The Chargers released Cox after one year of his five-year, $25 million contract. Opposing cornerbacks completed 60 percent of the passes thrown on Cox and beat him for five touchdowns. Now, the Chargers have Flowers, Wright, first-round pick Jason Verrett and Marshall. The Chiefs have a lot of unknowns. Head coach Andy Reid made upgrading the cornerback position a priority last year by signing 6-3 Sean Smith and veteran Dunta Robinson. Robinson didn't play much and was released this offseason. Opponents completed only 56.5 percent of their passes against the Chiefs' nickel, which is helped by a great pass rush. Now, the Chiefs are going with Smith, Marcus Cooper and Ron Parker. The 6-1 Cooper filled in for Robinson as the third corner but his performance faded during the season. He gave up 800 yards receiving and was targeted 86 times. As a starter, he will be targeted even more. 2. The Denver Broncos learned a lesson in the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning struggled against the Seahawks' aggressive pass defense and physical cornerback play. Although they failed to re-sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, they did land Aqib Talib. The 6-1 corner was one of the best man-to-man specialists last year, when he gave up only 38 completions and three touchdowns with the New England Patriots. With a more physical safety, T.J. Ward,  added and getting DeMarcus Ware at defensive end, the Broncos believe they have taken their pass defense to a new level. 3. The Patriots hope cornerback additions can get them to the Super Bowl. Since 2008, the Patriots have drafted six cornerbacks in the top three rounds, and that includes 2010 first-rounder Devin McCourty, who now plays safety. After losing Talib in free agency, Bill Belichick signed Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Browner is perhaps the most physical press-coverage corner in the league. Revis is one of the best man-to-man defenders. Now, the Patriots have perhaps the NFL's deepest group of corners. 4. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers put their faith in the zone. Greg Schiano traded for Revis but didn't take full advantage of his skills by paying a zone early last year. Schiano's gone and Lovie Smith brings in Cover 2 zone scheme. He released Revis and signed Alterraun Verner, who feels more comfortable in zone. Opponents completed 66.2 percent of their passes against the Bucs' nickel and they gave up 7.71 yards an attempt. Smith hopes the numbers will come down. 5. Did the New York Jets find the right replacement for Antonio Cromartie? The Jets have taken a lot of criticism for not signing Rodgers-Cromartie to replace his cousin. Instead, the Jets signed Dimitri Patterson, who signed for $4 million a year less than DRC will get from the New York Giants. Here's the problem: The Jets face Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the first seven weeks of the season. If the Jets didn't make the right move at corner, they could be in a deep hole by midseason.

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