In a move that everyone saw coming, the Chiefs used their lone franchise tag on free agent wide receiver, Dwayne Bowe.
Teams had until 3:00 central time to make their franchise tag decisions and the large majority, 21 teams, decided to participate. One quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, one tight end, three defensive ends, one linebacker, three safeties, one cornerback, five kickers, and one punter received the franchise tag. Of those 21 players, only Drew Brees received the exclusive rights franchise tag, meaning he's not going anywhere. The other 20 received a non-exclusive tag, meaning he can still negotiate going to another team, but it was cost that team two first-round draft picks. A hefty price to say the least.
But perhaps this is what Bowe wants.
It's not uncommon for teams to use the franchise tag, and the Chiefs did it last year as well with OLB Tamba Hali. Hali and the Chiefs were eventually able to work out a long-term contract after the lockout ended, and the two parties seem very happy. The Chiefs press release once the tag was applied on Hali spoke of the two sides still working on a long-term resolution (and yes, I thank Arrowhead Pride for these thoughts. I would hyperlink the page, but the site is down):
"Tamba is a key contributor to our football team, and we have a tremendous amount of respect for him both personally and professionally," Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said in a statement released by the team. "We want Tamba to remain a member of the Chiefs, and we will continue to work together with the hope of reaching a long-term agreement."
If you've read the statement that Pioli came out with today, it doesn't sound nearly as hopeful.
"Today was the league’s deadline to designate a franchise player and we felt it was in the best interest of the Kansas City Chiefs to place the tag on Dwayne."
As anti-climatic as the franchise tag placed on Bowe was, this lackluster response was probably the most surprising. Not just looking at the Chiefs statement last year, you can look around the league and see how the Chiefs statement this year is quite the discrepancy between other statements offered around the league by team officials. For example, here's how the Patriots addressed their tag recipient, Wes Welker, today:
"Wes Welker is a remarkable football player for our team and has been a vital component to our offense and special teams since we traded for him in 2007," the team said in a statement. "Utilizing the franchise designation allows both sides more time to try to reach an agreement, which is the goal. Wes remains a contractual priority and we are hopeful that he will remain a Patriot for years to come."
While the speculation can now commence if the Chiefs and Bowe can reach a long-term agreement, it is almost a certainly that Bowe will be around for the 2012 season (and the first year of the Peyton Manning era [fingers crossed]), and the franchise tag will pay him handsomely. About $9.4 million to be more precise.
Was Bowe worth it? I absolutely think so. He's come along way since the days of his doubtful future in 2010, and his numbers have been excellent. Check them out yourself:
Career Numbers: 75 games played, 356 catches, 4,927 yards, 36 TDs