The Kansas City Chiefs made a surprise move on Monday, signing former Oakland Raiders cornerback Stanford Routt to a three-year deal worth $20 million. The deal was reported by numerous sources, including The Kansas City Star.
The perception among fans (and some pundits) is that Routt is a lesser corner, but he deserves more credit than that. Routt's biggest problem was that he was overpaid by the Raiders, as they signed him to a three-year contract worth over $30 million last season.
That was too much money for a player of Routt's caliber, and the Raiders more or less admitted that by releasing him this offseason.
The Routt signing will have a domino effect in terms of what Kansas City does next this offseason. Most notably, it effects the team's decision of where to place its franchise tag.
With Routt on board, the decision is obvious. The franchise tag should be placed on wide receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Before the Routt signing, the franchise tag decision was pretty much between two players: Bowe and cornerback Brandon Carr. Carr is a good corner, but it makes absolutely no sense for the Chiefs to cut him a big paycheck seeing as how they're already committing quite a bit of money to Routt and Brandon Flowers. They have the cap space to do it, but that doesn't mean they should.
Making sure Bowe comes back is a much better idea. He's been by far the best weapon the Chiefs have had in their passing game ever since he broke into the league in 2007. He would certainly be missed if he were to leave.
Tagging Bowe and keeping him around for at least one more season is a much safer play for the Chiefs. In fact, Gregg Rosenthal of Pro Football Talk points out that the Bowe situation is a win-win situation for the Chiefs:
"The Chiefs have a huge amount of salary cap space, so it should be easy to tag Bowe. A long-term deal could be tough to put together quickly. A one-year contract will give Bowe motivation to play his best again in 2012; motivation has been an issue at times during his career."
If the Chiefs choose to tag Carr and let Bowe walk as an unrestricted free agent, there would be no arguing with the quality of their secondary. Their wide receiving corps, on the other hand, would then be spearheaded by 2011 rookie Jonathan Baldwin. The Chiefs would trust that he'd be ready to fill Bowe's shoes in 2012.
And that would be anybody's guess.
Since there's no reason for the Chiefs to gamble with that possibility, I'm going to be shocked if they don't find a way to bring Bowe back. It's the safe play and it's the smart play.