As soon as the Chiefs signed free-agent corner Stanford Routt last month, it was clear that the team was probably going to use its franchise tag on top receiver Dwayne Bowe. Today, just before the 4:00 ET tag deadline, that’s exactly what happened.

Under the tag, Bowe would make approximately $9.5 million in 2012, which wouldn’t be convenient at all for the Chiefs, who have a lot of cap space but could use the flexibility of a long-term deal with Bowe in order to be active on the open market.

Bowe, who was a first-round pick in 2007, led the league with 15 touchdown grabs in 2010 and has gone over 1,000 yards in three of the last four seasons. He fell just five yards shy of the 1,000 mark as a rookie in ’07 and missed five games due to injury in 2009.

But Bowe’s also had some real dog games on occasion, which might be why the team isn’t jumping to meet his long-term demands. So it’s completely possible that KC sucks it up and lets Bowe play for just under $10 million of cap money in 2012, forcing him to earn the deal he desires.