Thursday, January 24, 2013

Dwayne Bowe is one of ESPN's five 'must keep' free agents

Posted by on Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 8:45 AM

Bowe knows catching.
  • Bowe knows catching.
It turns out that ESPN is worried about who will catch the football for the Kansas City Chiefs. And they're right to do so. In a new article entitled the "Five Must Keep Free Agents," Dwyane Bowe tops the list.

I considered three receivers before settling on Bowe as the guy who would be hardest to replace. In St. Louis, Danny Amendola is dangerous but his constant health problems leave the Rams unable to rely on him. Meanwhile the likely split between the Patriots and Wes Welker is just as likely an opportunity for somebody else to step up in New England. But without Bowe, Kansas City has Dexter McCluster, Jon Baldwin and Steve Breaston currently atop the depth chart. Bowe will be sorely missed if he's allowed to leave.

Chiefs fans got a preview of what the receiving corps would look like without Bowe in the month of December, and maybe it's time to admit that the team needs him.

First, I'll acknowledge that the receivers are only part of the equation. The pass-and-catch connection doesn't work if the pass portion isn't settled. No doubt there will be a change at quarterback (let's assume [because coach Romeo Crennel is no longer here to chide us for assuming] that the new QB will be an upgrade for the purposes of this blog). But that still doesn't solve the issue of who is running routes.

Jon Baldwin caught 20 passes, six after Bowe was done for the season. Dexter McCluster caught 20 passes in the final month of the season for a total of 102 yards. Steve Breaston caught seven passes the entire year, which was one less than Terrance Copper. These are likely not new facts to you.

Bowe had an off year, which was still 59 catches for 801 yards and three touchdowns. But take into consideration that he missed three games because of injury and that the Brady Quinn/Matt Cassel experience threw for a combined 2,937 yards. Bowe caught just over 27 percent of the completed passes by yardage on just 21.6 percent of the completions. It's not an exaggeration to say an anemic offense flat-lined without him. The Chiefs scored 16 points in their final three games.

It's easy to undervalue what you have in Bowe. But for his career, he has averaged 4.7 catches for 65 yards and .44 touchdowns per game. That's not far off from Calvin Johnson (the best wide receiver of Bowe's 2007 draft class). Johnson puts up 5.3 catches for 85 yards and .58 touchdowns every time he steps on the field. If you handicap for quarterback play, that gap shrinks further. Bowe could be a pillar on which the offense is built, but only if the Chiefs decide to re-sign him. Do you think the Chiefs should keep Bowe's services?

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