The Chiefs franchise player has yet to report to camp because he's yet to sign his franchise tender offer of $9.5 million. He can't practice or play without signing the tender. He also can't get paid, so there's nothing that can be gained by Bowe staying away from the Chiefs. By NFL regulations there can be no negotiations between player and team, so he doesn't improve his bargaining position by staying away. And, of course we know that GM Scott Pioli would never break the NFL rules by having off-the-books conversations with his wide receiver's agent. All Bowe can hope for is that his absence puts a crimp in the Chiefs' offense and makes the front-office re-evaluate his worth to the team for a possible long-term deal in 2013.
If Bowe is staying away because he wants to escape living in a dorm room for the better part of three weeks and having to work on the big brown oven that are the Missouri Western State practice fields that's understandable. In fact, in some ways it may be smart; less wear and tear on his body heading into the season.
Despite attempts by the media to keep the Bowe story stirred up with questions to Pioli, head coach Romeo Crennel, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, quarterback Matt Cassel and wide receivers Steve Breaston and Jon Baldwin, there is no buzz these days around the Joe about Bowe. He's out of sight and for the most part, out of mind.
Bowe's motivations right now are a mystery. He wisely has kept his silence through most of the off-season. His only comment was to a Chiefs-centric website Arrowhead Pride when he said he would be at training camp. His agent Todd France has not been willing to field any questions or provide any information on the situation. Other than his chosen national media types that frequently get those rare bits of "real" information from Pioli, the GM hasn't been willing to say anything of substance. He told one Kansas City radio station:
"I just don't think it's healthy to talk about it ... Everyone knows what the circumstances are, what the deadlines are, and those things tend to work themselves out ... Right now the way things are it's being handed professionally by both sides."
It's hard to have a controversy when nobody involved wants to talk. Of course, that can always change but right now it wouldn't seem to solve the problem between the two sides. And there is a problem here and it's going to show itself with the Chiefs offense. Bowe missed the entire off-season and now the first week of camp. Daboll's offense is a complete change from what the team had been working with the previous two seasons. That's especially true in the passing game. Routes are called different things in Daboll's scheme than the Weis-Haley-Muir playbook. It's like knowing French and having to now learn Spanish ... they are both romance languages, but words mean different things.
Breaston has had his nose in the playbook since the off-season program started and he's now starting to feel comfortable that he understands the language and the concepts. But that took 10 OTA sessions, a mini-camp, numerous meetings and a week of camp.
Bowe has had problems throughout his career with focus, and that has made getting to the right spots on the field sometimes problematic. That he's had such success speaks to how physically gifted he is as a receiver.
How hard is it going to be for Bowe to catch up on the new offense? "He can learn it," Breaston said.
But how long? "He can do it," Breaston said.
There's learning the language, there's being in football shape, there's having complete focus on what's happening on the field - there are a lot of challenges ahead for Bowe when he does decide to re-join the Chiefs.
Contracts usually don't get done until there's a deadline, but there is no negotiating mark on the map ahead. But there is a deadline - if Bowe has not signed his tender offer by 3 p.m. CDT on November 13, he cannot play in the NFL in 2012. That does him no good, nor does it do the Chiefs any good.
The Chiefs offense needs Dwayne Bowe. His young teammate Baldwin is turning heads with his play in camp so far, especially in contrast to his disastrous rookie season in 2011. But Baldwin has never been the "man" in an NFL offense. Bowe has and the Chiefs and Cassel need that.
When Dwayne Bowe shows up is not important. What happens after he's in the door is going to play a big part in the success or failure of the Chiefs in 2012.
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