When looking through the Chiefs record books, it is easy to find some of the greatest offensive players the NFL has/had to offer. Some of the leagues greatest players are represented throughout the NFL's history including TE Tony Gonzalez, WR Otis Taylor, RB Priest Holmes, and even soon to be inducted Hall of Fame OT Willie Roaf.
But since the retirement of Taylor in 1975, the Chiefs have had trouble drafting and maintaining a consistent threat at the Wide Receiver position.
Sure players such as Stephone Paige, Andre Rison, Carlos Carson, and Eddie Kennison made a significant impact during inconspicuous seasons but for the most part the Chiefs have struggled to draft and mold a dominant receiver. That is until they invested their 23rd overall pick of the 2007 draft on LSU WR Dwayne Bowe.
Dwayne Bowe piqued the interest of all KC fans when he sprang onto the NFL scene in 2007 logging the best rookie season of any Chiefs receiver over their over 50 year history. Bowe career floundered a bit over the next 5 seasons but was highlighted by a 2010 campaign that saw the emerging receiver collect 15 touchdowns (most by a receiver that year) and was honored with his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Now with Bowe set to enter the free agent market on March 13, Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli is faced with the dilemma of making Bowe one of the top paid wide-outs in the NFL or letting the arguably the franchise's best true wide receiver in franchise history walk.
This would seem to go against Pioli's mantra of keeping his ‘right 53' resigned but Bowe's case is a bit different.
For starters Bowe hasn't exactly been savvy in the Public Relations world; something that has been emphasized since Pioli came aboard in 2009. But Bowe's importance on this team may have been exemplified toward the end of the 2011 season.
Although nothing concrete has ever come to light, the consensuses is that the final straw for former head coach Todd Haley came after a verbal altercation took place between Bowe and Haley. Shortly after this story broke Haley's release was made official. Although Pioli catered to Haley's opinions of player retainment/release (i.e. Bernard Pollard, Jared Gaither, and Brian Waters) Pioli stayed loyal to Bowe, enough to say during the post season that retaining Bowe would be one of the team's top priorities during the off season.
So far the contract talks have been under wraps. But from what Warpaint Illustrated has learned - for the moment talks have stalled on getting a new deal done.
The culprit seems to be Bowe's asking price. Per our sources Bowe is asking for Larry Fitzgerald type money. If this is indeed true, Bowe would be seeking a contract that would pay him in the range of $15 million per season with nearly $40 million being due in the first two seasons.
Although this may be merely a bargaining attempt by Bowe's management, he may be asking for a bit more than he is worth on the open market.
During his five seasons in the NFL, Fitzgerald average 5.2 touchdowns per season, 78.6 per game, 1195 yards per season, and 13.96 yards per catch. Comparatively, Bowe averaged 7.2 TD's per season, 65.7 YPG, 985 YPS, and 13.8 YPC. Although these are impressive numbers, they are hardly those of Fitzgerald which will make it tough for the 6th year wide-out to gain any leverage in his asking price.
But one thing going for Bowe will be the fact that Bowe has had to deal with a revolving door of quarterbacks and coordinators, remaining a consistent threat throughout. Also to his credit, Bowe has easily had his best two season's during 2010 and 2011 and appears poised to be in his prime over the next 3-5 years.
The answer for Pioli will likely come down to how much interest Bowe will receive on free agent market. If allowed to test the waters (remains unsigned as of March 13) Bowe might be the most prized free agent of the 2012 class (minus Peyton Manning). If a team is willing to mortgage the farm on Bowe, the Chiefs would likely franchise Bowe and ask for a large trade in compensation.
Although the Chiefs have been preparing for contract negotiations by signing free agent acquisition WR Steve Breaston and drafting WR Jon Baldwin during last year's offseason, the Chiefs would still struggle without Bowe.
Bowe is the only proven #1 receiver on the roster. Although Breaston had a fantastic 2011 season for KC, his best worth is lined up opposite of a legitimate #1 guy. Baldwin was drafted to be the Chiefs insurance plan for Bowe's departure but his sluggish 2011 season has made the return of Bowe to the lineup a necessity.
With Bowe (and a marquee quarterback) the Chiefs will have one of the most multidimensional offenses in 2012. Without him there will be many question marks heading into next season.
Simply put, Bowe may be more important to the Chiefs plans in 2012 than any other team in the NFL. Short of a blockbuster deal with another team, it is hard to imagine the Chiefs passing on their home grown receiver.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Is franchising Dwayne Bowe the Chiefs best option?
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