The last thing that a football player wants to have happen in a contract year is to sustain a season ending injury. This obviously means that they are unable to accumulate statistics which can be shown to general managers around the league this offseason in addition to adding question marks surrounding health. In an odd case though for Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe, broken ribs and a trip to injured reserve might have been the best thing to happen to him this season.
Since his departure in Week 14 against the Cleveland Browns the Chiefs offense has been completely shut down. They went scoreless in the last three quarters against Cleveland and were shut out this past Sunday by a Raiders defense which now ranks 24th in total defense in the NFL.
The supposed replacement for Bowe as the number one receiver for the Chiefs was 2011 first round draft pick Jon Baldwin. There was some thought before the Oakland game that if Baldwin could step up his game in the final few weeks of the season it might make Bowe expendable.
Well following the loss of Bowe against Cleveland, Baldwin was targeted twice and did not make a single catch versus the Browns. On Sunday in Oakland, he was targeted four times and yet again was unable to grab a reception. It was quite obvious to anyone who watched the game that Baldwin simply can't beat press coverage at the line of scrimmage. At this point in time every Chiefs fan must be asking the question if Baldwin can already be considered a bust.
Now it is true that the Chiefs were not lighting the scoreboard up with Bowe in the lineup but he was at least able to give Brady Quinn or Matt Cassel an opportunity to throw to an open receiver every once in awhile.
After seeing the performance of the Chiefs quarterbacks this season and especially in the past seven quarters of action without him you have to be even more impressed that Bowe was able to gain over 1100 yards receiving in each of the past two seasons. This was with an underwhelming mixture of Quinn, Cassel, Kyle Orton and Tyler Palko all making starts under center.
As everyone is likely aware of, Bowe is playing this season under the franchise tag for a salary of nine and half million dollars. If the Chiefs want too they have the ability to place the franchise tag on him again for the 2013 season where Bowe would earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million dollars. It does need to be said that Bowe is approaching thirty years old as he will turn 29 during the 2013 season.
Bowe is not the only big name Chief without a contract heading into next season though. Starting left tackle Branden Albert and punter Dustin Colquitt also are set to be free agents and both could be under consideration to be designated with the franchise tag. Seriously though if the Chiefs passing offense continues on its current pace in the final two weeks of the season does Scott Pioli or whomever is in charge really have any other choice but to bring Bowe back either via the franchise tag or a new contract.
Can the Chiefs really believe they can draft a quarterback early in the 2013 draft and expect him to adequately develop throwing to the likes of Jon Baldwin, Devon Wylie, and Jamar Newsome. If the decision is made to not bring Bowe back in 2013, Chief fans better hope that Clark Hunt opens up the checkbook and tries to hit a home run with someone like Greg Jennings or Mike Wallace in free agency. With the abundance of cap space available it could really benefit the Chiefs and their likely new young quarterback to bring Bowe back and sign an impact free agent or two.
So even though many Chiefs fans have already checked out from this season you can be assured that Dwayne Bowe and his agent are still keeping close tabs on this team.