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Kansas City Chiefs roster analysis: Rebuilding the receivers

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

[Editor's note: We continue on with our Chiefs offseason roster analysis from Dirk Scholl, Aaron Hansberry, and Joe Edwards of Football Futures. Many thanks to them for allowing us to post their analysis here. Check out the previous positions here.]

The wide receivers

WR - Dwayne Bowe
Slot - 
WR - Albert Wilson, Frankie Hammond

Other players: Fred Williams, Armon Binns, Corbin Louks, Da'Rick Rogers

Free agents: Junior Hemingway, Jason Avant

*Donnie Avery and AJ Jenkins were cut on February 17.

A general look at the unit

The ship is taking on water!

Take a deep breath. Now let it out. We didn't sink. Now let's patch this hole.

This was the worst performance of the past year as a positional unit - historically bad considering not one touchdown was caught by the group all season. Yes, there were injuries; Frankie Hammond, Jr. was the only player to not miss a game. But it's hard to say if the guys injured would even have seen playing time had they suited up. Fielding the same roster in 2016 would be absolutely inacceptable. It's time to throw all nonessential parts over board and head as fast as we can in another direction. One late season bright spot and a looming contract to be dealt with highlight the discussion.

The guys under contract

Dwayne Bowe is the best we've got. He's got a big body which he uses well in the running game, and well enough in one-on-one jump ball situations and traffic, even if he doesn't catch with his hands. The problem being Alex Smith doesn't often throw into jump-ball situations or into traffic. Thus Bowe needs to run crisp routes and create separation if he wants to be successful in this offense, and while he can still do that better than anyone on the team (Kelce is making an argument), it is not his forté.

3 decades old 
3 consecutive 800-yard or less seasons 
3 TDs/yr in that same span 
3 monstrous years left on deal

What is that saying about things that come in 3s?

Albert Wilson should not be considered a starter. Not yet anyway. But if we are going to have to roll with someone who is not a starter, Wilson is the most agreeable guy for the job at this point. He showed a little bit of umph at the end of the season causing an eye-catching splash in our tiny, dark pond of split end plays. He will get a thorough look next year again (as if we have a choice). Ideally he is rotational. But of the players on the roster, he was the second most productive last year, and therefore is our No. 2 (for now).

Frankie Hammond, Jr. was the only guy to not miss a game but has little to show for it. Four receptions on 12 targets for 45 yards. He contributes significantly on special teams in the return game, but that shouldn't allow him to be inept at his offensive position. With Davis and DAT in the mix he's a long shot to make the team again solely on a special teams role. "Frankie Hammond, Jr., You got to go!" 

Minimal contracts, minimal thoughts

Fred Williams, Corbin Louks, and Armon Binns are just guys right now. We'll have to see. Da'Rick Rogers is characterized as a "persistent off-field headache" by Rotoworld. But if he can get his head straight and keep his nose clean (and other body parts) he may well have some impact at the back end of the roster. He's got the physical prerequisites.

The free agents

Junior Hemingway saw the second most snaps at the position after Dwayne Bowe. Shows precedence on blocking. Plays special teams. But that's not what a WR gets the paycheck for. We have a hard time imagining he'll be back unless it's on another bubble player cap number.

Jason Avant was on the team for five games only but obviously picked the scheme right back up. His production in those games figured for the entire season would put him between Bowe and Charles. Even without the "figuring" he outperformed half of the positional unit. Should he sign another low contract, he could make the squad as a consistent and veteran presence who knows Reid's offense well.

Cap considerations

It appears to be common knowledge that Dwayne Bowe won't see the rest of his current contract. Some suggest he take a pay cut in order to stay with the team. That's possible. But otherwise he needs to be cut.

Bowe appears to have planed out at a level inferior to the best we've seen of him. The front office came in and signed him after the first of this past three year span, perhaps thinking he would return to his previous 1,000 yard form and thus getting a fair rate on a true No. 1. But Bowe didn't return, and we don't think he'll be willing to take a significant pay cut. Thus, as for the back end of his contract: "Dwayne Bowe, thanks for voiding your guarantees, You got to go!"

Overall assessment

Both the fact that the front office offered Bowe his current contract, as well as Junior Hemingway's playing time this past year even without much of any return in the receiving game, suggest that you have to be able to contribute to the running game if you want to make this team as a WR. However, the production of this unit last year suggests we need to throw away that for now, and everything else we thought we knew, and focus on the basics - getting open, catching the ball, and running with it.

The quickest way back to the surface might be for Bowe to stay on board with less money, and then to sign a starting caliber free agent. No one can say they would be surprised at such a signing, but that's only because we have such a dire need. The cap (and our assessment of Bowe's willingness to take a serious cut) says no. So it's unlikely, but the cap hasn't stopped teams from making similar moves before. Have we ever even had two legitimate receivers on this team? Bowe and Steve Breaston? Bowe and Chris Chambers?.... Eddie Kennison and Samie Parker? It's hard to make an argument for the modern era. However, the cap still says no.

A more likely approach would be through the draft. A high draft pick, preferably a plug-and-play guy, augmented with a mid-level free agent (i.e. Michael CrabtreeCecil Shorts IIIEddie Royal), and Albert Wilson plus a whole group of young guys behind them. Avant could be a senior presence competing for time. This should be an attractive situation for young guys, both from within the league, but also for UDFA, as the back end of the WR corps would be wide open and only be decided in training camp. Call it a committee approach - but ultimately this unit needs to be rebuild from scratch. Given all these uncertainties we go with six WR on the roster for now - until the unit has settled a bit.

This approach is a risky one, without leaving any veterans on the team to build around, but being cautious did not help much over the past two years, and suspect drafting and free agent acquisitions throughout the Dorsey / Reid tenure now necessitate bolder steps.

Coaching

While we'd love to let Rex Hudler have the final word here, John Dorsey is going to steal it talking about Albert Wilson's year:

"He's got a chance to be a pretty good player. I think what you do is you watch him grow in the offseason. Watch him in training camp. In my heart of hearts, I know what I think he can be and I think he's a pretty good player. I think he has a chance to grow and get better and with David Culley as his coach I feel very strongly that he can develop into that."

Looks like Dorsey is planning on Culley being here and coaching receivers in 2015.

2015 WIDE RECEIVER PROJECTION

WR - Free agent, mid-to-low draft pick / UDFA / Other 
Slot - DAT, training camp winner
WR - High draft pick, Wilson