News about the Kansas City Chiefs will be silent for the next month or so as the roster continues to enjoy time away from the grind of training camp or OTAs and the coaches prep for the upcoming season that will be in full swing nearly one month from today. However, there's a story for the front office to focus on this month that will be the primary focus for Chiefs fans wondering what will happen with the team's best offensive player in Dwayne Bowe.
Perhaps Jamaal Charles has a higher upside, but given his season-ending injury and subsequent rehab and return, Bowe remains the offense's best weapon for a team that needs to turn the corner on that side of the ball. The Chiefs defense played at a high level in 2011 even without Eric Berry and an abbreviated preseason for Justin Houston. It's the offense, under new coordinator Brian Daboll, that must provide the balance on the roster for the Chiefs to have a chance at a playoff spot.
Bowe is a major part of that and the Chiefs top receiver of the last decade received the franchise tag earlier this offseason. At the very least, Bowe will play 2012 for the Chiefs and play out the season in hopes of cashing in on the open market in 2013. However, are the Chiefs really prepared for life after Bowe? Can they afford to let an impact receiver walk when there are so few options in the NFL for such a player?
Phil Emery's first major move when transitioning from the Chiefs to the Chicago Bears as the team's new GM was to trade two third round choices for Brandon Marshall even though the receiver can't stay out of trouble off of the field. It's a sign that an offense must have that dynamic red zone option and go-to receiver for any offense to truly thrive. While the Bears have a great running back in Matt Forte, Emery knows the value of a productive, top shelf receiver. It's something the Chiefs' front office likely knows as well.
Unfortunately for Bowe, the former LSU product has wrestled with image concerns for some time. He came into the league with a diva personality in his first season in the NFL, and was also slighted for poor conditioning at first by former head coach Todd Haley. The past three seasons, however, Bowe has been a changed man and has even led the league in touchdown receptions in 2010. Yet his reputation continues to hang over him, fair or not.
The Chiefs also drafted Jon Baldwin in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft. That sort of investment made many fans question whether or not he was taken to be Bowe's long-term replacement. But the NFL requires multiple targets for a great passing game, and the Chiefs will need both Bowe and Baldwin to allow Matt Cassel to succeed. Just ask the Arizona Cardinals about drafting Michael Floyd in the first round this year despite the presence of Larry Fitzgerald. You can never have enough impact wideouts in today's NFL.
The Chiefs have to make a major decision on Bowe soon if they are going to lock him up long-term before the season. July 15 is the deadline for any franchised players to sign a long-term extension or else they must play out that season under the $9.5 million franchise amount for wide receivers in 2012. The Chiefs could explore an extension after the season, but then they'd be getting awfully close to to the open market, as what happened with Brandon Carr. The team also has several other candidates for extensions to worry about -- including Branden Albert and Glenn Dorsey.
While all is silent at Arrowhead this time of year, the front office has a lot to think about concerning one of the team's best overall players. In just two weeks time, the die will be cast for Bowe and the 2012 season. It will be interesting to see what happens.