5 Reasons Kansas City Chiefs Must Move Dwayne Bowe Before the Trade Deadline
After multiple losing seasons, three head coaches and a prolonged contract negotiation that ended in receiving the franchise tag, this report isn't so much a surprise as it is a logical conclusion.
So now it's time for the Chiefs to take that next logical step and trade Bowe now.
There's no denying Bowe's talent as a wideout; he's been the Chiefs' most prolific receiver in recent years and leads the team in receptions, yards and touchdowns.
But the pros for jettisoning Bowe before the trade deadline far outweigh the cons. With Kansas City's record, the recent changes to the trade deadline and the firestorm engulfing Scott Pioli in the media, the Chiefs can make a bold statement now that change is on the way in Kansas City.
The Chiefs Have Nothing Left To Play For
Okay, so maybe "nothing left to play for" is a little harsh, because there's always pride. And even though they haven't played like it, the Chiefs have a number of things to feel good about.
Kansas City found a pair of young, capable running backs this year in Shaun Draughn and Nate Eachus. The Chiefs have one of the best starting lineups in the league at linebacker. And Kansas City's front three on defense does a surprisingly good job of containing the inside run.
But that doesn't change the fact that Kansas City is 1-5 at the bye, or that the Chiefs have yet to lead in a game this season. The offensive line undermines the entire offense with its poor performance, and Kansas City lacks a viable starter at quarterback.
Lingering injury concerns continue from last season as well. While Jamaal Charles looks like his old self, neither Eric Berry nor Tony Moeaki appear fully recovered from their ACL tears from early last year.
As much as another losing season hurts, the Chiefs should go ahead and start playing for 2013. The Denver Broncos might only have a two-game lead in the division, but they have the look of a playoff contender; Kansas City doesn't.
Trading Bowe Might Save Scott Pioli's Job
Not even when Carl Peterson spent years squandering draft picks and free-agent money has there been so much venom spat out at the Chiefs' front office.
The culture clash between Scott Pioli's "New England" model of doing all business behind closed doors and general "Midwest openness" likely feeds a good portion of the animosity on display in the Kansas City Star.
But some of it could also be attributed to the Chiefs' lack of progress since hiring Pioli, who came to Kansas City as one of the top executives in the league.
The Patriots perennially field a dominant team built through modest free-agent signings, shrewd trades and banking draft picks for the future. Other than the part about free agency, the Chiefs haven't executed on any of those points.
But Pioli can turn that right around in the next two weeks. Trading Bowe now would gain the Chiefs at least two second-round picks (the original price for Brandon Marshall in 2010) and more likely a first and third. With those additional picks, Kansas City would gain the freedom to move around in the draft that New England has enjoyed for years.
And the Chiefs would get maximum value for a player with one foot already out the door.
Kansas City Should Have Plenty of Trade Partners
While the presence of one receiver won't likely change Kansas City's fate this year (which it hasn't so far this season), adding another playmaker to the passing game could be a huge boost for others thin at receiver either through staffing or injury.
Rival AFC West teams are out of the running (sorry, Oakland), but other AFC teams like the Dolphins and Bills could use Bowe to bolster their receiver corps. Bowe could rejoin Chan Gailey in Buffalo as a known commodity, or provide a veteran target for rookie Ryan Tannehill.
Kansas City would find no shortage of option in the NFC either. The St. Louis Rams need a viable target for Sam Bradford and have a surplus of draft picks courtesy of the Washington Redskins—another team needing a receiver for their young quarterback.
The top possibilities for a trade should either come from the Rams or the New York Jets. As mentioned, the Rams need help downfield to help Bradford stretch the field and take some heat off of Steven Jackson.
But no franchise needs the help more now than the Jets. With a receiving corps hobbled with injuries and a franchise quarterback under fire, the Jets need to provide Mark Sanchez a legitimate wideout.
Trading for Bowe could help save a couple jobs in New York. Rex Ryan currently coaches one of the most publicly dysfunctional clubs in the league; Mike Tannenbaum helped put it all together. If things don't get better soon, both their jobs could be in jeopardy, and Sanchez's play could be the tipping point.
Bringing in Bowe could help revive the Jets' 30th passing offense and, more importantly, help Ryan and Tannenbaum stave off a visit from "The Turk" for another year.
Dwayne Bowe Isn't Worth the Money Needed to Keep Him in Kansas City
Sure, maybe this is a little like saying your ex-girlfriend is "nothing special" after she dumps you for a nicer, richer, better-looking guy.
But Bowe's production comes as much from Kansas City's shortcomings on offense as it does his athletic ability. Most of Bowe's stats this year came from fourth-quarter drives with the game already out of reach. It doesn't take much work to gain separation from a cornerback playing prevent defense.
Being Matt Cassel's primary read doesn't hurt, either. Cassel shows a noticeable inability to check down in his progressions, particularly this season. That's not Bowe's fault, but he's certainly benefited from his quarterback's tunnel vision.
More importantly, Bowe's never fully resolved his pass-catching issues. Six years in the league have not greatly improved his ability to consistently bring down the ball. Against Tampa Bay, Bowe only made three receptions despite being targeted nine times. On the year, Chiefs quarterbacks have thrown to Bowe 69 times; only 34, less than half, have been for completions.
Paying out the type of money required to retain Bowe next year and beyond isn't a good investment for the Chiefs, regardless of how much room they have in the salary cap.
Trading Bowe Would Jump-Start the Franchise
Dwayne Bowe might not be worth the money needed to keep him on the roster, but the Kansas City Chiefs have a few other players they should hold on to.
Branden Albert and Glenn Dorsey both need new contracts and neither will come cheap. Kansas City could use part of this year's remaining salary cap to re-sign them, but would still need room for their new contracts next year.
Jovan Belcher is another Chief needing an extension. Belcher isn't the most talented starter on defense but excels at what he does: stopping the run.
Letting Bowe go now would help fund those contracts, and would also provide additional flexibility in free agency should the Chiefs desire to plunge into that pool again. Given the current roster, a solid veteran backup quarterback would be an imperative.
But the biggest benefit to trading Bowe comes in direct compensation. The Chiefs are already positioned for a top pick in the draft. With such a high pick (possibly even No. 1 overall), the Chiefs will likely have no choice but to select a quarterback in the first round—hopefully West Virgina's Geno Smith.
After that is when it gets interesting, though. The Chiefs will likely also get a third-round compensatory pick for Brandon Carr, plus what they get for Bowe. Should they acquire a first and third-round pick, the Chiefs can start wheeling and dealing for picks in the future. The goal would be to trade out of the first-round pick to gain a second-round pick in 2013 and a first in 2014.
With two second and three third-round picks, the Chiefs could still make some serious upgrades at a number of positions. 2013 appears to be a deep draft at cornerback, and Kansas City could use more depth behind Brandon Flowers and competition for Stanford Routt. The roster could deepen at inside linebacker as well with a player like Stanford's Shayne Skov. To call Skov a character would be an understatement, but the Chiefs could use a loud and aggressive player to help define their defense.
That still leaves Kansas City with three selections in the first 100 picks, maybe four if they secure the top pick of the draft. This could translate into more depth on offensive line or another safety for injury insurance.
One position the Chiefs might really not need to draft at is wide receiver. Kansas City already has Jonathan Baldwin, Steve Breaston and Dexter McCluster to fill the top three positions; if Baldwin starts to play like a true starter, the Chiefs might not even miss Bowe.
And if he doesn't, someone like Terrance Williams should be waiting at the top of the second round for the Chiefs to scoop him up.
So the Chiefs can continue to pretend the sky isn't falling and Bowe will happily stay in Kansas City for a couple bucks. Or they can cut their losses now and sell while Bowe's stock is high and give fans a team to really cheer for in 2013.
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