The Kansas City Chiefs have exactly seven days to sign wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a long-term deal. July 16 is the deadline for all teams to sign the player who they designated the franchise tag to earlier this offseason.
The Chiefs would be happy to sign Bowe to a long-term deal. However, if the two sides can't come to an agreement by next Monday's deadline, Bowe, like any unsigned tagged player, will play this season under the franchise tag.
It didn't appear as if Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli wanted to use the franchise tag on Bowe. The evidence is clear that Pioli was more open to the idea of negotiating rather than tagging his star wide receiver. But shortly before the 4 p.m ET deadline on March 5, Pioli had no choice but to designate Bowe as the team's franchise player.
While Pioli wanted to avoid letting the tag come into play, Bowe and his agent didn't seem to like the offers Pioli put on the table.
It is no secret the source of the disagreement is that Bowe wants to be paid in the top five in his position, while Pioli and the Chiefs are concerned about his consistency. Bowe has flashed great play-making abilities that other wide receivers are not capable of.
In his five years in the league, Bowe has caught 10 touchdown passes that either gave the Chiefs the lead or tied the game in the second half, as well as a couple that cut the lead to a few points.
But Bowe has not been perfect as a receiver. On the contrary, he has dropped a lot of passes in his career, which is not something he can allow if he wants to be considered a top-five receiver, or be paid like one.
Calvin Johnson, who is considered the league's best reciever, has seen his numbers improve throughout his career while Bowe's have been up and down. The two were in the same 2007 draft class, and have roughly played the same amount of games since entering the league, but Johnson's numbers are higher than Bowe's in every key receiving category.
- Calvin Johnson career stats: 76 games, 366 receptions, 5,872 yards, 49 touchdown
- Dwayne Bowe career stats: 75 games, 356 receptions, 4,927 yards, 36 touchdowns
Among all pass-catchers in the league last season, Bowe tied for 10th and 45th in receptions and touchdown grabs respectively, and 13th in yards. While one might defend Bowe for his poor numbers due to multiple quarterbacks starting for the Chiefs last year, you could say the same thing for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
However, even with two different quarterbacks under center for the Cardinals, Fitzgerald had no problems finishing in the top 15 in receptions and touchdowns while finishing fourth in yards.
Unlike many receivers who have struggled throughout their career, Bowe has proven that he has the potential to be a top-five receiver. This was featured in 2010 when he led the league in receiving touchdowns with 15, despite a really quiet start in the first four games that year.
Pioli has a big decision to make with Bowe, who missed all of OTAs due to his contract dispute.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, the Chiefs could franchise Bowe again next year if they can't reach a long-term deal this year. They are more than happy to make Bowe a rich man, if he can display his elite form each game.
It is uncertain which version of Bowe will show up on the gridiron. Some days, he does look like the receiver who deserves to be paid in the top five in his position. On other days, he makes errors that players paid in the top five rarely make.
The most recent game where Bowe hurt himself and the Chiefs was in Week 16 when Bowe dropped a pass in the end zone against the Oakland Raiders, preventing him from having a two-touchdown game as the Chiefs lost in overtime and were eliminated from playoff contention.
A lot of questions will be answered this week. If Bowe and the Chiefs can't come to an agreement before July 16, perhaps it is a sign he wants to find a new home where he thinks he will get the money he is deserving of.
Pioli waited before the 4 p.m. ET deadline on March 5 to tag Bowe. One can wonder if the July 16 deadline forces the Chiefs and Bowe to make progress later this week.