As the Chiefs begin to plummet into obscurity, Dwayne Bowe wants out. Again.
The talented receiver is the only weapon in the Kansas City passing game, but with only a one-year deal in his pocket and a crashing tide of changes due to hit his team, he may no longer be a part of their long-term plans. Chiefs GM Scott Pioli would be foolish not to listen to offers before the NFL's trade deadline, but should a team like the Rams be picking up the phone?
If you were Les Snead, and you could get Bowe for a similar price as Anquan Boldin (give up 3rd and 4th round picks for the WR and a 5th-rounder), would you pull the trigger? There are pros and cons to either answer to this question. Here, two members of the RamsHerd staff take sides and square off.
Say no to Bowe
I personally don't believe Bowe is the right fit for this offense, nor do I think the price is right for a Rams team that puts a premium on draft picks right now.
The loss of Amendola will undoubtedly hurt offensive production and I was in favor of the rental of Brandon Lloyd last season, but this is different.
First, the perspective of Rams fans toward wide receivers is skewed in general. We've been waiting so long for a legitimate receiver, we'll ignore the flaws of Bowe and potential cost in draft picks for the immediate benefit. Similar to someone wandering the desert for water finding an oasis, it seems like it could be a mirage to me.
Secondly, most Rams fans kill our receivers for inconsistencies and drops, but Bowe is a poster child for both. This season according to Pro Football Focus, he's already accounted for three drops and three interceptions when the ball is thrown toward him. Brandon Gibson, the perennial scapegoat for drops, has only a single drop. This isn't a rarity either, as Bowe last season had 10 drops and accounted for five interceptions while scoring only five touchdowns.
Third, Bowe is going to want a long-term deal if he's traded anywhere and are the Rams willing to pay him when cheaper options will be available in the draft? Assuming he wants a deal somewhere between Robert Meacham's (4-years, $25.9 million) and Vincent Jackson's (5-years, $55.5 million) that leaves the Rams paying in the area of Pierre Garcon's contract with the Redskins (5-years, $42.5 million). He's not a short-term rental like Lloyd was, so the Rams will want to pay him. But assuming the team goes 6-10 to the best case 8-8, guys like Justin Hunter, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin, Marquess Wilson and maybe even Keenan Allen will still be available for one-tenth of the cost. Don't forget, the new CBA plays heavily into any and all trades right now, and I see Snead sticking to the course he and Fisher have set up to get young guys through the draft and only pay a premium for certain veterans.
Overall, I'm not opposed if the Rams get him for a fourth and fifth rounder, but that's unrealistic. I think the costs (both draft pick wise and contractually), coupled with Snead's vision and Bowe's inconsistencies make this deal more of a fantasy than a reality.
The Rams are finally ready for a player like Bowe
I will be playing against type here, as I have long been a proponent of the patient approach. I also look at the history of midseason deals – including one for Brandon Lloyd that failed to pay off – and see little cause for optimism. However, there are a few factors that make me reconsider, and they have more to do with the team than with Bowe himself.
First, let's admit Dwayne Bowe as a known quantity: a high-risk, high-reward downfield playmaker that is stuck in a terrible offense. His sub-60% catch percentage doesn't look that great, but if you dig deeper into the numbers you can see that much of that fault lies with his quarterback. According to Pro Football Focus, Bowe was targeted downfield 37 times over the past season and a half. Of that number, only 14 were deemed "catchable." Bowe came down with 11 of those 14 passes. When you have a quarterback rotation of Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko and Brady Quinn, you're going to get a lot of bad passes thrown your way.
This is where I believe the Rams have made enough strides to make a player like Bowe worth looking at. Sam Bradford's deep ball accuracy has improved every season, and we are seeing him click with Chris Givens on these routes. Where Givens is a pure "go-route" runner, Bowe specializes in the deep square-ins and outs that Torry Holt excelled at. Having two staggered weapons at the deepest level of the defense forces them to adjust, and opens things up underneath for the run and the pass.
Moreover, Bowe may be the template for the kind of player that the Rams want Brian Quick to become — but the slowness of his development suggests that it will be at least a year, perhaps more, before he gets to that point. This may cause some grumbling, but long-term investments can pay dividends, as they did in the cases of Miles Austin and Vincent Jackson.
It's widely held that, even after drafting four receivers in the past two seasons, the Rams will need to find another, perhaps in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft. But they also need a franchise left tackle and other reinforcements along the line. They also need impact players at safety and outside linebacker. Signing Bowe would not put a crimp in their draft board.
Bradford is showing significant growth, but is still struggling to put balls in the end zone. Adding a veteran playmaker with several years of fresh legs ahead of him and a proven track record of scoring, even if he has a few warts, should be reasonable to consider, especially if you can lock him up for a few years.
The Rams are not a "win-now" team, and a short-term rental offers no value to them. But Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are on a mission to add talent, and Bowe has that in spades. I'd do it.