Dec 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe (82) catches a pass before the start of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Bowe Contract Could Come Back To Haunt Chiefs For Years


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.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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Tags: Contract Dwayne Bowe John Dorsey Kansas City Chiefs

  • Michael Lizalde

    Where did you get your stats? According to, Bowe dropped 3.9% of his passes. One of the lowest percentages in the league. 3rd lowest on the team. I agree production didn’t match contract, but lets leave drops out if it. He dropped less passes than Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker, Demarius Thomas, Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson, Eric Decker and our own Jamall Charles just to name a few.

    • NicholasAlanClayton

      Stats are from PFF, which measures its drops against “catchable balls.” If you measure against his total targets, then yeah, it’s a lot lower.

      • Michael Lizalde

        I don’t understand the difference. Is that implying that the targets were not catchable?

        • NicholasAlanClayton

          Targets are just any balls thrown their way, many of which are so off target that the receiver has no chance of reeling it in, let alone be in the neighborhood (See: Quinn, Brady). Granted, it’s a bit subjective, but PFF separates out throws that are on target enough that the receiver should be able to catch it.

          • Michael Lizalde

            I’d be interested to see PFF’s stats on the above mentioned WR’s that had higher percentage drops based on targets then. Either Bowe had so many balls that couldn’t even come close to being caught that it lowered his drop percentage to one of the lowest in the league, or the other WRs dropped less passes but had a higher numer of catchable balls so it increased their numbers based on targets. How about an actual number of drops instead of a percentage. says 4 drops for Bowe.

          • berttheclock

            Thanks for the sportingcharts. Several have mentioned Avery continuing to drop passes, but, according to sc, he, actually, improved in KC. In 2012, he was listed at dropping passes with the Colts as just over 16 percent. In KC, that dropped to 7+ per cent. Fasano had the highest percentage of drops for KC at just over 12.

          • cyberry

            A lot has to do will when they drop that pass… Is it 1st down or 2nd and 4… those drops you can regroup… it’s the 3rd down and could have kept the drive going but now your punting take the air out of a team.. you tend to remember those more..

    • berttheclock

      Good pickup. In the first half of the season, Charles had far more drops.

      However, off topic, but, as you mentioned Decker, do you think the Pats will open the vault for him?

      • Michael Lizalde

        I don’t see the Pats doing that with the other holes they have. It would be in Deckers best interest to go to a team with a high level QB. Go the way of Welker and get a team with a QB that will make him look good.

  • Stacy D. Smith

    I’m really not worried about Bowe. The passing game was always going to take time to get into full swing. Took Alex Smith 9 games to get it going. It’s only natural that his receivers’ production suffered a bit in year one. Bowe’s final 7 games were better than the first 9. I’ll bet Bowe has a more Bowe-like season in 2014.

    • berttheclock

      Yes, it did take Smith a while before he mastered the throw to himself system. When, you are running a West Coast and there are major problems at the TE, plus, you are working with new receivers, it does take a while, not to mention the drops by Charles, trying to develop the confidence of Jenkins and the ups and downs of Avery, there is going to be that developmental time to hit running in stride. Smith accomplished a great deal, while, scrambling under immense pressure, and he became stronger at the end. It amazes me to see so many just view statistics as a year long thing without delving into the game by game progressions. It reminds of reading comments about a power forward for Michigan, last season, heading into the NCAA Big Dance. He was a freshman who came up to his game slowly, but, several Jayhawks’ fans wrote about his overall stats for the year and tried to dismiss him. They failed to notice his vast improvement late in February. BTW, he helped destroy the Jayhawks.

      • Stacy D. Smith

        There was improvement in both Bowe and the Chiefs’ passing offense. That’s why I think the issue will resolve itself next season.

        • NicholasAlanClayton

          Bowe’s hands have always frustrated me. Every season he makes a few catches that no non-cybernetic human should be able to make. Then he drops three easy 1st-down-conversions in a row.

          • Stacy D. Smith

            Can’t argue there. There are receivers with better hands in this league, but I think his issue with drops tends to be overstated a bit. Hopefully he gets back to form in 2014. We’ll need a better year from him.

  • Tristian Shelley

    I understand what you are saying but moreso in year 2 or 3 when he is owed 30 million combined. It is the first year so for now id hold off. Plus u can always restructure to make his cap hit lower by just giving a bigger signing bonus in future years. But lets just be honest. The team has alot of needs and if bowe wasnt here do u guys really think we would’ve made the playoffs? Its hard to say but dude was getting doubled the majority of the time because mccluster and Avery weren’t getting open in the first half of the season. That means the offense would’ve scored alot less without bowe and the safeties would’ve gotten exposed alot sooner. If not for bowe u would be going into the draft saying wr need 3 recievers instead of just one or 2 and when u draft for need instead of best player u get in trouble most times. Let him play out this year and we will see what happens. I have a feeling he puts up 13 to 1500 yards and 12+ TDs

  • micah stephenson

    Yea This Dorsey came in throwing money around like it was nothing.

  • jimfromkcj

    I agree, he is just one of several who is not living up to his salary size. Sad when you have all these pro bowlers and are paying them so much money that we are up against the cap and we aren’t even paying our QB franchise money. I call that being upside down with the franchise. Pioli has a lot of the blame, but Dorsey has share too. Pioli should have signed Carr and Albert to extended contracts while they were still under contract instead of trying to pinch pennies and get them to sign contracts like Jamal signed. I think Dorsey should have bit the bullet and traded Albert last year when he could still get something for him. Now he is likely to walk and we get zilch. Signing Bowe was a big mistake too, He should have put him on the trading block and found out what the other teams thought he was worth. Between the 2 GM’s we are really screwed and likely to never see even a division title for a long time let alone a Super Bowl.

    • cyberry

      How do you know he didn’t try to extended their contracts? I bet Dallas wishes they would have let Carr just stay put.. he wasn’t worth 50M.. If they would have traded Albert last year..we won’t have won 11 games. With Stephenson playing LT who..was going to play when Fisher was hurt. The only team that wanted Albert was Miami and they where only going to give a 3rd Rd pick..(I’m sure they were regretting that move in mid-season).. They are hurting worse know than last year.. They could franchise him a again..and trade for a 2nd pick..they jump on it. They’re forced to draft a OT this year..why not get a pro-bowler.

      Actually, I’m really curious to see how this..”Chiefs family” works out.. After everything Albert and Jackson have gone through with this team.. Do they stay for cheaper or leave for higher pay.. Remember TJ has went out of his way to help with his contract before.. He got rich on that first contract before..It’s really funny.. how everybody was calling the Chiefs cheap a couple of years ago..they knew payday was coming in four years for all these high draft picks they got when they Now their too generous..

      • berttheclock

        Interesting that Pro Football Focus, which is mentioned above by Clayton, noted Jackson had his best year this past season with the Chiefs. He was one of several players of the Chiefs who received their best grades for 2013. Teicher of ESPN has them listed at his site and he attributed it to better coaching.

        • cyberry

          I don’t think he leaves..

    • berttheclock

      As for Albert, you have to have two to tango. I place the blame on Albert not ending up in Miami with Jeff Ireland, who really was a penny pincher and it ended up helping to cost him his job. He was the one who tried to get cute in negotiations and, as a result, Albert stayed in KC and Miami ended up not having a legitimate left tackle.

      However, I do not believe the large contract to Bowe was a bad as other have said. Dorsey was trying to rebuild a new team and the last thing he needed to do was to release KC’s only legitimate receiver. So many love to bash Bowe, but, who else was available to the Chiefs at the time? There was not going to be one in the draft. Nor, was anyone really out there in FAcy and FAcy does not come cheap. I firmly believe the Chiefs will weather the financial storm of 2014 and, if there needs to be major cuts financially, it will be in 2015. The two biggest concerns for the coming season are in the defensive backfield and finding a legitimate home run threat on the opposite side from Bowe. Find a speedster who can take double teams off Bowe and see his numbers rise in 2014. In the defensive backfield, find talent with both speed and toughness to add to the mix. If Sutton wants to continue to play man, then, he needs far more speed both opposite Berry and on the sidelines..

    • mattU

      Dorsey probably knew we wouldn’t have cap space to sign many FAs in 2014 because of S.Smith, Fasano, Robinson, and Avery signings last year. So maybe he figured franchising Albert and letting him walk this offseason would end up netting a 3rd round compensatory, which is all Miami wanted to give us last year anyway.

      While I agree Bowe’s contract is a little high given his receiving numbers, his blocking ability and the respect he demands from the defense are things our offense would sorely miss if he didn’t resign. Hali and Berry both have similar cap hits to Bowe, and I’d argue Bowe will be more valuable to us than Hali going forward. Flowers is another big cap hit (10.5MIL), and even though he made the pro-bowl his production this year was questionable at best. If the Chiefs could trade Flowers and pick up a guy like Gilbert or Denard (both bigger than Flowers and solid man coverage CBs) at #23, it would probably be the least detrimental way to cut a huge chunk of cap space.

  • cyberry

    I can see Tamba restructuring plus adding a couple of years to his contract to retire a Chief…if he wishes.. While their at it.. locking up Berry for long term would be nice..

  • Calchiefsfan

    Bowe and Smith started to click at the end of the season. If they can continue that into next year then we’ll see Bowe get back to 1,000+ yards and 10+ TDs. Smith’s numbers should go up too, now that he’s starting to figure out how to go long.

    • berttheclock

      Imagine how much better they will become should KC pick up such as a Brandon Cooks type for the other side. Someone, with both quickness to get off the line of scrimmage and great speed to the end zone. Put excellent hands on that someone and the double teams will disappear.

      • Calchiefsfan

        Can you say offensive juggernaut? Our offense would be unstoppable. Now if we can just fix the secondary problems we’ll be in business.

  • Rock

    False. We all know the type of receiver Dwayne Bowe could be. Before Alex the best Qb he played with was Trent green back when we still had Tony G. The guy puts up numbers year in year out with mediocre Qbs. All of a sudden when he deserve to get paid he’s not worth it? I believe Andy had a plan to use the double team Bowe was getting to spread the ball around and get Charles going. Plus, we all know Alex is not going to force the ball into coverage. It takes time and reps to get familiar to your Wrs and we all seen how far they’ve come in that playoff game even on that last play. We all know chiefs need another playmaker on the outside and believe me Andy gonna get that either with Maclin or someone in the draft. We should be fine moving the ball consistently next year and that’s a fact.

    • cyberry

      If the Chiefs get a consistent WR in the draft that can spread the field and keep that FS off balance..I think Bowe will start to shine. Plus I have a good feeling about Kelce next year..

  • chiefridgy

    Maybe he’ll restructure

    • toperspective

      When there are large guarantees restructuring usually just pushes misery down the road.

  • John Gabbard

    Him and alex will be just fine. We had a better receiving core than we have had in a while. That being said, it is mediocre at best. The only reason he had better numbers with far less better qbs is because he was literally the only receiver. Every one else has sucked. Alex won’t throw it to you if your not open, whereas cassel, thigpen, quinn, croyle, huard and yes, even green would which is why they had a lot of interceptions. Yes bowe had better numbers but we weren’t winning. I prefer to win than to have stats and that’s alex’s best stat

  • KCMikeG

    If we draft a young speedster beast with our #1 pick then we could have a Julio Jones/Roddy White combo. Bowe would produce more if he wasn’t doubled if he can hang onto the ball. Unfortunately White makes half what Bowe does who makes Jones money. Bowe needs to step it up big time in 2014. Showing up in shape would be a great start.

  • Larry Devore

    Maybe if the Chiefs had another receiving threat, Bowe would have maybe had better numbers. There was no one that opposing teams really had to game plan for.

  • randypeters297

    There is no way he is worth the money they’re paying him. KC
    definitely needs a decent number one wide-out because Bowe just isn’t that guy.
    I have always felt that Dwayne Bowe would make a decent number 2 receiver. He
    can’t be counted on to make the clutch catch although he did play well vs. Indy.
    Elite receivers are a lot more consistent than Bowe has ever been and he hasn’t
    earned that status.

    As far as WRs goes, Bowe is tied at 25th in TD
    receptions with 13 other receivers. Of the 14 receivers with 5 TDs, Bowe is
    eleventh in catch percentage at 55%. This catch rate is tied with 4 other
    receivers at 61st. NOTE: This is a receivers list only. This does
    NOT include TEs or RBs.

    But let’s forget about catch percentages as there are too
    many variables that go into this. Let’s talk TDs only. If we are to include TEs
    and RBs (TD receptions – not rushing TDs) his numbers drop dramatically. His 5
    TDs are tied at 37th with 18 other players. These are not exactly
    impressive numbers.

  • Brody Hall

    Devils advocate here… The guy was basically double teamed all season. Let’s draft a WR in round 1 and get a legit threat besides Bowe… Those big plays from Avery and mccluster prolly would not happen if Bowe was being doubled up. I say 1 season with a light threat across from him before saying this was a mistake.

  • Spellchecker

    D-Bowe performed at the same rate he always has. People (and I use that term lightly) like to conveniently omit the fact that Bowe was hardly targeted the first half of the season. Andy Reid preferred to spread the ball around and was learning along with the rest of the team what plays were most effective.

    Andy Reid’s offenses have always featured a running back who was the primary receiver except for the one year he had T.O. The last two years of Andy Reid in Philly where he threw the ball more to his wide receivers and two receivers had more catches than his primary running back were losing years which resulted ij him being fired.