Chiefs GM John Dorsey is definitely deserving of his NFL Executive of the year title but that doesn’t mean there are no flies in the ointment of his first year as Chiefs GM.
In hindsight, his most questionable call was making WR Dwayne Bowe one of the top three highest paid receivers in the league with a 5-year deal worth $56 million, $26 million guaranteed. Now, let me make clear right now (and the record shows) that I was behind this move at the time as well. But, the way things have shaken out, this deal is this single biggest thing holding the Chiefs back from improving their roster.
Just to review, Bowe was given this money to be the Chiefs #1 wide receiver and one of the top performers in the league at his position. Instead, he ended with 57 receptions for 673 yards and 5 TD’s, 130 yards less than when Brady Quinn was throwing most of the balls. RB Jamaal Charles may be dynamic, but it really shouldn’t be the game plan to end the season with him as the top receiver by nearly 15 receptions.
His postseason heroics aside, Bowe was a flop this year on an offense that was anemic and short on passing targets at times. Early in the year, it was easy to blame QB Alex Smith for this, as he has a reputation for not throwing deep. But, both Smith’s play and HC Andy Reid’s scheme are precipitated on high-percentage throws and Bowe dropped his way out of game plans. He had one of the highest drop rates in the NFL, letting 11.5% of the catchable balls that went his way hit the turf. I can also remember at least a couple of times that Bowe got sloppy on his route and/or allowed a smaller CB to get the edge, leading to an interception.
Going into 2014, he is the Chiefs’ highest-paid player with a cap number of $12 million (according to Over The Cap) in a year that the Chiefs have less than $4 million in cap space to work with for offseason additions and draft picks despite several expensive outgoing free agents. Twelve million dollars would buy a lot of improvement on this roster, but the Chiefs would gain little from cutting Bowe, as he still has $16.25 million in guaranteed money wrapped up in his contract and it’s highly unlikely the Chiefs will find a trading partner for him especially in a year with a plethora of 1st-round wide receiver talents available in the draft.
Hopefully, Bowe will turn around his play this year, but his contract nonetheless makes management decisions difficult. With already so much money committed to the wide receiver position, bringing in a free agent likely to make up for his lower production will unbalance this roster for years. Bowe is not built to be a slot guy, so even if someone emerges as the a new #1 receiver for the team this year, the Chiefs will have a $12-million man riding the bench or out of position.
Cap-wise, the Bowe problem will only get worse if his play does not improve. In 2015, his cap hit jumps to $14 million and $13 million in 2016. Barring some new big signing, Bowe will be the Chiefs’ highest-paid player, absorbing more than 10% of the team’s total cap space until he becomes a free agent in 2017.
In the end, all GM’s make bad signings and draft picks, this particular one does not make Dorsey a bad front-office guy, but, as one of his first decisions with the team, it will continue to haunt the franchise if Bowe doesn’t have a big year next year.