Them Chiefs, man. They were pretty busy at, oh, about 3:59 p.m. ET.

If Andy Reid/Alex Smith want to have any success whatsoever, retaining Dwayne Bowe was a priority. However, using the franchise tag on him was far less than ideal and perhaps impossible because Bowe would have then been tagged for the second straight year at a cost of just over $11 million. That’s too much green for a team that entered today with about $7.5 million in cap space.

No worries now, though. Long-term extensions are a salary cap’s bestest friend.


The value of Bowe’s deal isn’t known yet, and we’ll update this post as the Internet provides that information. But we can safely assume the yearly cap hit is quite manageable, or at least much more so than the heavy tag salary Bowe would have commanded. But the Chiefs weren’t done there, because of course they weren’t.

The franchise tag was used, with the Chiefs slapping it on Branden Albert. So instead of becoming one of the most coveted free agents at his position despite some injury concerns, Albert remains in place to protect Smith’s blind side.

Combine Albert’s tag with Bowe’s contract and the Chiefs also signing punter Dustin Colquitt to a five-year deal worth $18.75 million (he’s now the league’s highest-paid punter…because they’re people too), and some creative accounting likely remains to get back under the cap. But that tap dancing will happen through signing bonuses and other shenanigans, because this is the NFL, a league where a few million is still long lost couch change.

Negotiations were slow at best between the Chiefs and Bowe, so due to that cap crunching and the dollars associated with the franchise tag, there was an increasing and very real possibility that he would hit the open market. So crisis = averted, and now Bowe can enjoy his frequent check downs in an offense run by Smith. Oh boy oh boy oh boy.

Bad Smith jabs aside, Bowe — who finished with 801 receiving yards in 2012 despite missing three games and being on the other end of passes thrown by the equivalent of two blind rats — is a crucial cog to not only Smith’s success and therefore Reid’s too, but he’s also central to Jamaal Charles and his continued slashing. Charles had a terrific season in 2012 while finishing with 1,509 rushing yards. But he still disappeared during a handful of games, which was downright maddening for his fantasy owners (he had three games with 10 or fewer rushing yards, partly due to injury).

Meanwhile, Albert may be declining, but he’s still one of the league’s strongest and most efficient left tackles. If we compare him to Ryan Clady and Jake Long — the two other top left tackles in this year’s free agent class (Clady was also tagged) — he leads easily over the past two years.

The far greater impact of Albert’s tagging may come in April. Initially the Chiefs were connected to Geno Smith with their first overall pick, and then Alex Smith was acquired. The dots then led them to Luke Joeckel, who has widely been projected as the draft’s top tackle. Now? Let the auction begin.

In a draft with no definitive first overall pick, trading the top pick will be difficult, but that could be the next avenue the Chiefs pursue. If that is indeed their next direction, they’ll quickly encounter this problem: the difference between the value of the top pick this year and, say, the 12th pick is negligible.