The deadline for the Kansas City Chiefs to sign wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a contract after giving him the franchise player tag came and went on Monday afternoon. It’s a risky move by general manager Scott Pioli, and unfortunate it had to come to this. But ultimately it’s likely to be the best move for the long-term future of the organization.
Bowe can still be signed for the 2012 NFL season and presumably he will, thanks to the franchise tag. The player’s only option is to hold out for the entire campaign and to say that would undercut his value on the free agent market this offseason would be a drastic understatement. It’s also fair to think Bowe will be hungry to prove himself, even if anger at the Chiefs front office is driving that hunger, so the team’s short-term goals are not likely to be compromised.
When you look at the long-term goals, the hard decision Pioli faced is this—do you commit serious money to a wide receiver when, for all the good things about him, is not one of the league’s elite. Bowe is good, but he’s not great. Then factor in that you are building a team based on the running game and defense, not on a high-powered passing attack. We can say a lot of nice things about quarterback Matt Cassell, but he’s not a signal-caller so good that you feel compelled to rush out and buy him some pricey receivers. Or at the very least, if you do, make it one of the top three or four receivers in the game.
There are just too many ways for Kansas City to compensate for the eventual loss of Bowe—and even that’s no sure thing, even if the chances of his departure drastically increased on Monday afternoon. The team can spread its dollars at receiver out and get two above-average players to join Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin. They can invest in playmaker for the secondary to join safety Eric Berry. Bowe is a good wide receiver—just not good enough to command top dollar on a team built the way the Kansas City Chiefs are. That’s why I believe Scott Pioli exercised good leadership in making a decision that was difficult, but necessary.
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