After an eight-season run, the Dwayne Bowe show may be coming to an end.
Multiple reports on Tuesday afternoon, notably from Adam Schefter of ESPN and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, indicate the Chiefs plan to release the veteran wide receiver.
PRE JUNE 1: The move frees up $5 million in cap space for the Chiefs this season, and clears $13 million in cap space for both the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
POST JUNE 1: The move frees up $9 million in cap space for this season, $7 million for the 2016 season and $13 million for the 2017 season.
Bowe’s career in Kansas City has been marked by ups and downs. The peaks include three 1,000-yard receiving seasons, topped by his 2010 season when he hauled in 72 catches along with career bests in receiving yards (1,162) and touchdowns (15).
Many of his lows took place off the field, including a four-game suspension in 2009 for violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy and a one-game suspension following his November 2013 arrest for possession of a controlled substance.
Bowe tantalized Chiefs fans with his physical skills and potential from the very beginning of his Chiefs tenure. Bowe was the team’s first-round pick in 2007, No. 23 overall.
He was a two-time Rookie of the Week award winner in his inaugural season, compiling 70 catches for 995 and five touchdowns.
Bowe topped the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his second season, hauling a career-high 86 receptions for 1,022 yards and seven touchdowns.
The arrival of offensive coordinator Charlie Weis in 2010 launched Bowe to the best season of his career. His 2011 season was virtually identical under offensive coordinator Bill Muir, save for a drop in touchdowns receptions from 15 to just five.
Part of the puzzle of Bowe’s performance is answered by the Chiefs revolving door at quarterback and coaching during his time with the team. In eight seasons, Bowe played for four head coaches and seven offensive coordinators and played with 11 different quarterbacks.
In 2012 the Chiefs applied the non-exclusive franchise tag on Bowe. After a lengthy holdout, Bowe signed the one-year tender for $9.5 million.
With the arrival of John Dorsey and Andy Reid in 2013, Bowe signed a five-year, $56 million contract including a $15 million signing bonus and $20 million guaranteed.
A key clause in that contract made the release of Bowe a financial possibility for the Chiefs. Under the original contract, his salaries for the 2014-15 seasons would have been guaranteed. His suspension following his arrest for a controlled substance voided that guarantee.
As a result, Bowe carried a cap hit of $14 million for the 2015 season with $9 million in dead money. Without the suspension, Bowe would have had $19.75 million in dead money this season. That would have virtually guaranteed his spot on the team’s roster this season.
The impending addition of free agent wide receiver Jeremy Maclin made Bowe expendable to a degree, although it still leaves a void of experience at wide receiver for the team.
While there are short-term cap benefits to Bowe’s release, there are long-term implications as well. The move frees up additional cap space in 2016, when the list of of potential free agents includes defensive tackle Dontari Poe, linebackers Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali, cornerback Sean Smith and safety Eric Berry among others.