There's been a lot of talk recently regarding the Kansas City Chiefs' current contract situation with Dwayne Bowe. This post isn't necessarily a for/against signing Bowe to a long-term deal, but it will show how much more invested the Chiefs are in the wide receiver position than their AFC West rivals as of right now.
Obviously player contracts change from year to year for every team. What the cap hit number is for a player in 2012 isn't the same as it will be in 2013, 2014, etc... The following numbers are the cap hits that each of the teams in the AFC West are going to take for the top three wide receivers on their team for 2012. Information for this post was gathered from spotrac.com
It should be of note that the wide receiver position has been developed differently by each team in the AFC West. You have some teams like the Denver Broncos that are going to get a lot of production out of younger guys still on their rookie contracts (Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker), and then you have the San Diego Chargers who are going to see production from three guys that aren't on their rookie contracts anymore (Eddie Royal, Robert Meachem, Malcom Floyd). This will affect their cap numbers as rookie contracts are much lower and more cap friendly.
The Denver Broncos will roll into 2012 with Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Brandon Stokely as their top three receiving targets for Peyton Manning. While Brandon Stokely's contract with the Broncos isn't readily available, I'm not sure it's for a whole lot more than $3 million dollars for one year, although I could be wrong on that. Thomas will cost the Broncos $1.18 million against the cap and Decker will cost $1.24 million against the cap.
Total cost for Broncos in 2012 is $2.3 million + whatever Brandon Stokely counts against the cap.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers went out and signed Eddie Royal and Robert Meachem during free agency in hopes of getting back some of that production lost from Vincent Jackson leaving town and signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Meachem will count as $3.3 million against the cap this year, Royal will count as $1.5 million, and returning play-maker Malcom Floyd will count as $3 million against the cap.
Total cost for Chargers in 2012 is $7.8 million.
The Oakland Raiders have consistently been one of the teams that spends too much money on players so you'd assume that they'd be in a bad spot with how their contracts are structured. In the case of the wide receiver position that's not necessarily the case for 2012. Darrius Heyward Bey cost the Raiders around $21 million against the cap in 2010 as such a high pick that was questioned at the time, but in 2012 he's going to count just $5.7 million against the cap. Good news for the Raiders is that Jacoby Ford ($617k) and Denarius Moore ($512k) have stepped forward as receiving threats early in their careers while they aren't costing the Raiders a lot of money.
Total cost for the Raiders in 2012 is $6.8 million.
Kansas City Chiefs
Many of you will come right out and say that signing Dwayne Bowe to a long-term extension would lower his cap hit number for 2012 because it's currently $9.5 million. While that is true based on the way the contract could be structured, it would still put the Chiefs higher than any other AFC West team no matter how it's structured. Steve Breaston is going to count $4.5 million against the cap in 2012, and Jonathan Baldwin will count as $1.7 million.
Total cost for the Chiefs in 2012 is $15.7 million ($6.2 million BEFORE Bowe)
The Chiefs are obviously higher than the rest of the AFC West in terms of money against the cap dedicated to the wide receiver position. In fact, the rest of the AFC West is totaled at $16.9 million (plus Stokely) while the Chiefs are at $15.7 million. It helps these other AFC West teams, namely the Broncos and Raiders that they have young, late-round picks that are stepping up for them.
Contracts are fluid and always changing but it does ask the question as to how much money the Chiefs should invest in a position that, from a scheme standpoint, comes secondary for the offense? They are still going to be a run-first team and spending almost twice as much money as any other AFC West team on a position you aren't utilizing might not make sense. Dwayne Bowe is a fantastic player and a huge piece of our offense, but moving forward Breaston isn't getting any cheaper and neither is Baldwin. Something has to give.