Brandon Carr and Dwayne Bowe could play their final game as members of the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday in Denver.
Both Bowe and Carr are set to become free agents following the season.
GM Scott Pioli has been hard at work trying to lock up a number of KC’s big name free agents. He has already extended the contracts of RB Jamaal Charles, CB Brandon Flowers, MLB Derrick Johnson and OLB Tamba Hali. Charles, Johnson and Hali are all Pro Bowlers and Flowers plays at a near Pro Bowl level.
While the core of the Chiefs seems to be pretty well in order, losing Bowe and Carr would set the team back significantly.
Bowe is 27 and will turn 28 next September. He is in the prime of his career and has turned in another solid season despite playing with three different QBs. He has 75 receptions for 1,066 yards and five TDs on the season. That is already three more receptions than he had in 2010 and the Chiefs still have one game to go. Bowe’s TDs are down from a year ago, but considering how mightily the KC offense has struggled this season, the WR likely isn’t to blame.
There have been some that have suggested that the Chiefs drafted Jonathan Baldwin to replace Bowe. I don’t buy it. Until 2011, Bowe had been the only consistent receiving threat the Chiefs had. The acquisition of Steve Breaston in free agency and the drafting of Baldwin, in my opinion, was merely an attempt to boost a unit that has been very poor on depth for a very long time.
Allowing Bowe to leave in free agency would be irresponsible. He is still the team’s best receiver, and Baldwin has shown no signs of being ready to be a true #1 receiver. As for his off-the-field issues, I don’t think the Chiefs are too concerned about that. Bowe may have a big mouth but he seems to have it under control. His suspension for taking a diuretic to lose weight was two years ago now. He made it through the lockout in excellent shape so it is safe to assume he’s learned his lesson.
Pioli has other needs to fill so Bowe should be free agent priority #1. A four or five year contract sounds about right.
Carr must be brought back as well. Though it seems like he has been around forever, Carr is only 25 and will turn 26 this May.
With Carr, we have another situation where folks point to Scott Pioli drafting CBs Javier Arenas and Jalil Brown as evidence that he is planning to replace Carr.
Again, I don’t buy it.
Those spouting those theories, in my opinion, haven’t been paying attention when Scott Pioli talks. Pioli believes in retaining his own players and building through the draft. He has also talked a lot about how much teams are throwing these days. Defenses are in the nickel more often than their base set. Pioli also knows that to make it to the Super Bowl, his team will have to go through the likes of Philip Rivers, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. He has been building his team accordingly. In case you haven’t noticed, the Chiefs have been playing pretty well against teams that like to throw the ball a lot. They’ve been having pretty good success against Rivers, they threw the mighty Green Bay passing attack terribly off-balance and they even flummoxed Tom Brady and Bill Belichick for a quarter.
Crennel has been able to keep the Chiefs competitive against these types of teams by playing an aggressive, man coverage. He trusts Carr and Flowers to bump receivers at the line to throw off timing in the passing game. This strategy also enables him to use his nickel corner and linebackers to double team TEs and slot receivers over the middle. The strategy only works because Crennel trusts Flowers and Carr.
Carr has been a bit slower to develop than Flowers but remember he played at Grand Valley State in college. He’s come a very long way in a very short period of time and he should only improve. Neither Javier Arenas nor Jalil Brown has the talent to play outside in Crennel’s scheme. I believe they were drafted to play exactly where they are. Arenas is a nickel corner/return man and Brown is a project dime corner with upside and size that Arenas doesn’t have.
The fact that Carr and Bowe haven’t yet been re-signed is troubling but no reason for panic. Pioli has done a good job of locking up most of KC’s high priority players. Since the Chiefs won’t be in the playoffs, he’ll be able to use that time to work on contracts for Bowe and Carr. There is still plenty of time and now is not the time to panic.
While there are no guarantees, I think both these guys are coming back. Pioli would be a fool to let either of them go. His job is to fill holes, not create them.