Ever so slowly, the Chiefs are assembling the pieces to field a respectable offense again. The latest is Donnie Avery.
Avery is among the Wednesday morning signings, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and he’ll now provide more outside speed to complement Dwayne Bowe, who was retained just prior to the franchise tagging deadline. He’s a burner, but he’s ideally suited to do his burning up the seam, which is how he was often used by the Colts this past season alongside T.Y. Hilton. Despite splitting time with Hilton for much of the year and then fading to play a secondary role, Avery still finished with 60 receptions for 781 yards, and nine of those catches went for 20 yards or more.
As part of Andy Reid’s West Coast offense that will find room for Avery to create after the catch in space, there’s an opportunity for immediate production. But if Avery is to become the true second option behind only Bowe, then Jonathan Baldwin needs to be traded, and that outcome now becomes a distinct possibility.
Yanking the ol’ plug on a first-round pick from just two years ago is always difficult, but Baldwin has vastly underperformed. While Bowe managed to contribute despite the Chiefs’ calamity at quarterback between Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn, Baldwin finished with just 20 catches this past season, and he’s scored just twice over 26 career games.
Now he could become expendable, especially with Dexter McCluster also able to occupy the slot. If that happens, expect Avery to be further utilized on intermediate routes where he thrives, though he’s certainly also more than capable of stretching the field. His success then will be determined by Alex Smith’s arm, as intermediate routes are what he does best, and field stretching, well, isn’t.