The Kansas City Chiefs have the salary cap room and the interest to sign both Dwayne Bowe and Brandon Carr. They've even publicly said as much for a team content to say nothing at all if they can get away with it. Yet one or both of the Chiefs big free agents could somehow hit the open market despite the team's interest simply because it takes two. While the franchise tag will likely claim one, either player would make major dollars in the open market of NFL Free Agency.
There are always players who are risks. Matt Flynn, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, will make money despite his limited playing time. Someone might roll the dice on a veteran like Albert Haynesworth or Randy Moss. Others might bite on a return from injury for Lofa Tatupu. But for young, impact players with proven records like Bowe and Carr who still have years of their prime playing days left, the vaults will swing side open.
Even as the market this season will look different with salary cap rules shifting to the permanent status of 2013 and beyond and the continued emphasis on the draft over Daniel Snyder-like spending, these guys will get their money.
Peter King writes, "I predict a few guys will make a fortune. Mario Williams, if he's not franchised by the Texans, should lead the way. Five or six others should follow. But too many GMs have been burned too many times to spend crazy money in the market. I expect more teams to wait out the initial frenzy and try to do smarter deals 10 days down the road."
Yet the few who do -- the five or six after Williams that King refers to -- are guys exactly like Bowe and Carr. There are other receivers and cornerbacks, sure, but who else has the consistency these guys offer. Bowe has more competition than Carr on the market, but Vincent Jackson is the only other prime target who can compete. Marques Colston has health concerns. Stevie Johnson doesn't have the track record. Reggie Wayne is getting older. Mario Manningham is a sell-high player right now.
That makes Bowe among the top two wideouts available this offseason. Given how many teams need an impact in the passing game, expect both players to make top dollar even with numerous options on the outside. Several teams need an impact receiver like the Jaguars, Vikings, Browns and Bears so the bidding will likely go sky high on the top players.
As for Carr, he's in an even better position. As much as the NFL is a passing game, it takes a strong secondary to shut it down. Carr is only 26-years-old, has four complete seasons of experience under his belt, has shown his ability to shut down the outside and registered a career high four interceptions last season. The Chiefs want to keep Carr, but they also just shelled out major extensions for his counterpart Brandon Flowers as well as Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson recently. Will they want to spend the money elsewhere?
If he hits the open market, Carr is likely the top cornerback on the market with Lardarius Webb as his competition. Cortland Finnegan can also make a strong case, but all three players will likely make their dollars on the open market. Even with the addition of late release Stanford Routt, Carr still has all the leverage on his side.
Chiefs fans certainly hope that their team is able to sign both players and keep the team's core intact. But the lure of the big payday is often enough to trump any experience, history and tradition and bring a player to the highest bidder. With only one franchise tag, the Chiefs might have to get ready to say goodbye to one.