Dwayne Bowe's Injury Against Denver Broncos Proves Value to Kansas City Chiefs

Derek EstesCorrespondent IJanuary 2, 2012

KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 18:  Dwayne Bowe #82 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates by jumping into the standfs after the Chiefs defeated the Green Bay Packers 19-14 to win the game on December 18, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs have no choice but to re-sign star wideout Dwayne Bowe this offseason.

Despite averaging over 1,000 receiving yards in four of his five seasons, Bowe faced plenty of criticism over the years due to repeatedly dropping passes.

His worst season came in 2009. Reporting to camp overweight, Todd Haley pulled Bowe from the starting lineup. Bowe only started nine games that year and caught only 47 passes.

Haley lacked in many facets as a head coach, but his tough love worked on Bowe. In 2010, Bowe dominated with a league-leading 15 touchdowns. With 72 catches on the season, Bowe averaged six points for every five catches.

This year, Bowe continued to improve. Yes, he dropped a couple key passes, and no, he didn't post nearly as many touchdowns. But with a broken offense and three different starting quarterbacks, Bowe still came only three yards shy of last year's career-high performance.

If that weren't enough evidence for keeping Bowe in Kansas City, yesterday's narrow victory over Denver should seal the deal. Prior to Bowe's neck injury, the Chiefs posted 206 total yards against the Broncos. Bowe personally accounted for 93 of those yards on six passes.

But Kansas City struggled after Bowe left the game just before the end of the first half. The Chiefs could only move the ball an additional 75 total yards, even though Kansas City held a meager four-point advantage over the Broncos.

Scott Pioli attacked the Chiefs' depth chart at receiver last season. He added a pair of offensive weapons with Steve Breaston through free agency and Jonathan Baldwin in the draft. What was a weakness on the roster last year became a strength in 2011.

That work takes a drastic step back if Bowe leaves next year. The Chiefs locked in most of their top talent these last couple years.

Bowe is the next piece to secure for Kansas City to field a playoff-capable team for years to come.