We’ve talked a lot about Mike Wallace, and his useless strategy of not playing football and turning down a contract offer that was very similar to the one that was in turn handed to Antonio Bryant by the Steelers front office. Chiefs wideout Dwayne Bowe is in a somewhat similar situation, but the difference is that he was given the franchise tag, while Wallace is a restricted free agent.
The effect of the two designations is the same in one sense. The team possesses nearly all the leverage in contract talks, while the player is faced with an ultimatum: either sign your fully guaranteed one-year contract that includes zero long-term security if you’re injured, or don’t play. If the player chooses option No. 2, he’ll be missed, but most often the team can find a way to get by just fine thanks. That’s the cold, calculating nature of NFL front offices, where one snap of a bone prompts the desire to escort the ailing horse out to pasture, and bring in the next stud to be abused.
But the difference with Bowe is monetary, and it’s a big one. While Wallace’s RFA tender is $2.7 million, as a franchise wide receiver Bowe is entitled to $9.5 million. To put that number in perspective, Marques Colston will be paid $1.2 million in 2012, and he finished just behind Bowe in receiving yards last year (Bowe was 13th with 1,159, while Colston was 14th with 1,143).
Yet Bowe is still absent from camp presumably to protest the lack of a long-term deal attached to his name, and it’s difficult to understand why. No, it’s impossible to understand why.
The deadline to sign franchised players to long-term deals came and went in late June, and Bowe wasn’t able to reach an agreement with the Chiefs. Surely this caused great anger and possibly resentment. Surely he’s sad, confused, lonely, and lost. But now his only choices are to either sign that tender and post the best numbers possible to ensure that he finally gets a lucrative deal next March, or to sit, sulk, and watch his value rapidly depreciate.
So far, he’s choosing option No. 2, but that won’t last long, according to Jim Trotter’s sources:
I’m told, however, there is virtually no chance that Bowe will pass up game checks that amount to $559,000 a week. He skipped offseason workouts while hoping to land a multi-year deal, so he could be behind when he finally reports. The Chiefs have a new offensive coordinator and new playbook; how long that will take him to get up to speed — and how severely his absence might limit his effectiveness — are questions no one can answer.
Pursuing the Vincent Jackson strategy of sitting out until Week 10 seems like a pretty poor choice since the Chiefs are set to lean heavily on the running game again after the addition of Peyton Hillis and with a healthy Jamaal Charles back. Tight end Tony Moeacki is also returning and he now has Kevin Boss as a running mate, and second-year wideout Jonathan Baldwin will continue his maturation.
With the weapons available to Kansas City’s offense, Bowe needs to return, and return soon, because missing significant regular-season time could be painful for his future bank statements. The offense will quickly move on and his production will suffer, along with his value on the open market.
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