The upside of silence is that there’s nothing there for the wags to use to try to read between the lines. The downside of silence, of course, is that it invites schlubs like us to try to fill in the gaps.
Maybe the Kansas City Chiefs tried like crazy to trade Dwayne Bowe. Maybe they didn’t.
Maybe they talked. Maybe they didn’t.
Maybe it went down to the last hour Monday afternoon, with the kind of sweat and tension the free world hadn’t seen since the Bay of Pigs reached its breaking point. And maybe the conversation between Chiefs GM Scott Pioli and Todd France, Bowe’s agent, went something like this:
FRANCE: Vincent Jacks …
At any rate, what’s done is done, and the notion of a long-term contract for Bowe is done, at least for the time being. The club’s leading receiver over the past two seasons and a Pro Bowler in 2010, Bowe has two options at present:
A.) Accept the consolation prize, a one-year tender at $9.5 million for 2012; or . . .
B.) Sit and home and watch new episodes of “NTSF:SD:SUV,” or whatever one does to kill time during a contract holdout.
In the meantime: Your serve, Jon Baldwin.
If there’s a message, so to speak, buried within the Chiefs’ strategic reticence to throw open the bank vault for Bowe, it’s that they’ve got Baldwin waiting in the wings. That, or the desire to have more flexibility in 2013, when the contracts of tackle Branden Albert, defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, linebackers Jovan Belcher and Brandon Siler and punter Dustin Colquitt are going to have to be addressed.
After months of hand-wringing by fans and nada from the suits in the Chiefs’ front office, Monday’s 3 p.m. CT franchise-tag deadline came and went without a multiyear contract for Bowe, who hasn’t been spotted at 1 Arrowhead Drive since the club slapped him with the franchise tag in March.
Over the weeks that followed, the contract status of the 27-year-old wideout has become a divisive little bugger among the faithful. In retrospect, the notion of Bowe getting Vincent Jackson money from the Chiefs — the former Chargers receiver pulled a reported $55 million over five years from Tampa Bay after hitting the open market — had a snowball’s chance in Tucson. Yet it also raised a good question: What is a fair approximation of Bowe’s worth?
On one hand, there were the dropsies. According to the web site ProFootballFocus.com, among wideouts who had 125 chances at catchable balls between 2009-11, Bowe was ninth worst in drop rate at 11.56 percent. It almost seems unjust, given the big picture, but folks remember the kid’s lapses of concentration as much as they do the array of circus catches.
Then again, consider who’s been throwing the poor guy the ball: Damon Huard, Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko and Kyle Orton. Would anyone have heard of Pierre Garcon if he’d been blessed with that bunch trying to find him in a crowd? If Bowe has a viable defense, it’s that.
Also, this: Over his first five years in a Chiefs uniform, the former LSU star has more touchdowns (36), receptions (356) and yards (4,927) than Otis Taylor (35; 204; 3,817) or Tony Gonzalez (30; 334; 3,958).
Taylor and Gonzalez walk on water here. Bowe — a chatty, no-BS type playing in a quiet, family town for a franchise run by quiet, family people — gets the silent treatment. Interesting.
Still, it was management’s prerogative, Pioli’s card to play, and he played it. Rather than lock into Bowe for the long haul, the Chiefs have given themselves some space to see what things look like in the fall and winter. They also afford themselves a chance to get a longer look at Baldwin, a 6-foot-4 former first-round pick who snared 21 balls in 11 games as a rookie last fall and wowed observers with his athleticism during spring organized team activities (OTAs).
“He’s proven he can make great plays,” backup quarterback Ricky Stanzi said of Baldwin. “When you have a guy like Jon, there’s a bigger window, obviously. He’s a big body. He has great hands. You always want to put the ball right on him, but you have a better chance if you do miss, for him to make a play, obviously. He can make your mistakes look really good.”
How good, of course, remains to be seen. According to Footballoutsiders.com, only 40 percent of the passes sent Baldwin’s way in 2011 were completed, a metric that the site concedes has as much to do with his quarterback and the opposing defense as anything else. Although even the most traditionally harassed targets, such as Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald (52 percent) and Jackson (52), were able to stay above the 50-50 line; so did Bowe, at 57 percent.
“I feel (Bowe) will be here,” Chiefs wideout Steve Breaston said of the veteran receiver. “That’s one of our playmakers. And when he comes back, he’s going to do well. We’re just waiting, keeping the seat warm for him. So when he gets back, it’s going to be exciting.”
We think. We hope. Training camp is slated to begin July 27. New episodes of “NTSF:SD:SUV” are slated to start August 9. A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, but $9.5 million will snare you a pretty nifty DVR these days.