Earlier this offseason, I wrote that the Kansas City Chiefs should part ways with longtime outside linebacker Tamba Hali. This week, it is time to examine the future of Dwayne Bowe.
Bowe has been a polarizing player for years with the Chiefs. Since being drafted 23rd overall in the 2007 NFL Draft out of LSU, Bowe has put forth some terrific seasons and some of great disappointment. After posting 995 yards as a rookie, Bowe amassed three 1,000-yard campaigns over the next four years. Over that span, Bowe caught 31 touchdowns and made the Pro Bowl in 2010.
Since then, Bowe has failed to reach the 850-yard plateau. In fairness, Bowe does not have great fortune with quarterbacks, getting most of his passes from Matt Cassel, Brodie Croyle and the ever-conservative Alex Smith. Still, the facts remain that Bowe is about to enter the third year of a five-year, $56 million deal. After getting suspended for marijuana last year, Bowe voided the guarantees in his contract, giving the Chiefs leverage to either cut his contract back or release him completely with little penalty.
So, what should general manager John Dorsey do?
Dorsey should sit down with Bowe and his agent this offseason and explain the situation from Kansas City's viewpoint. The Chiefs, nor any other NFL team, are going to pay $14 million against the cap for Bowe's services in 2015. After three consecutive lackluster seasons, Bowe is not in high demand. Add in that Bowe is 30 years old, and the cash register is not exactly ringing.
Dorsey should offer a compromise. Bowe would get a lesser amount of money, perhaps half of what remains on the deal with some of it being converted into a bonus. In return, Bowe will get some of his guarantees back, giving him some security. Without lowering his cap hit to around $5 million this season, it is impossible to see Bowe back.
Consider the position Dorsey sits in. The receivers were an embarrassment last season. On the free-agent market sits Randall Cobb and Jeremy Maclin, along with Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant and Michael Crabtree. Cutting Bowe with a post-June 1 designation would save Kansas City $11 million in cap space (also creating $6M in dead money in 2016). Instead of paying out a $14 million cap hit to Bowe, Dorsey could sign a premiere receiver and two starting-caliber offensive linemen at that price.
Bowe is a good player, but he is far from irreplaceable. While his blocking and leadership are commendable, the Chiefs can and will get by without it if need be. Dorsey is going to create ample cap space before free agency begins on March 10, possibly starting with cuts such as Hali, Donnie Avery, Chase Daniel and A.J. Jenkins. If Bowe is added to that list, Kansas City has $30 million in cap space instantly.
Buckle up, the offseason is going to be wild.