The Buffalo Bills are in the market for a wide receiver this offseason, but while many fans are hoping the team acquires Kansas City Chiefs' wideout Dwayne Bowe, I think it's a better option to rely on the draft to address the position.
Dwayne Bowe is a big, physical receiver at 6'2" 221 pounds, and he has deceptive speed for his size. However, there is speculation that he wants a big-time contract. I took a look at some wide receivers' contracts to get a gauge for what Bowe might command on the open market when Free Agency rolls around.
Santonio Holmes: 5 years/$45 million (Signed 2011 through 2015)
Andre Johnson: 7 years/ $67.8 million (Signed 2010 through 2016)
Brandon Marshall: 5 years/$44.7 million (Signed 2011 through 2015)
Sidney Rice: 5 years/$41 million (Signed 2011 through 2015)
And the two most recent contracts
Pierre Garcon: 5 years/$42.5 million (Signed 2012 through 2016)
Vincent Jackson: 5 years/$55.5 million (Signed 2012 through 2016)
Based on these six players' contracts, the average deal given to a "top tier" wide receiver was 5.3 years and worth $49.4 million, a ballpark figure that Bowe is likely to want, and will command.
But is he worth almost $10 million per year?
Bowe was drafted in the first round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of LSU, and has had a decent career with the Chiefs, despite the team's struggles at the quarterback position. In his six years there, he's caught 415 passes for 5,728 yards and 39 touchdowns, while averaging a modest 13.8 yards per reception.
However, Bowe had a monster 2010 season, in which he caught 72 passes for 1,162 yards (an average of 16.1 yards per reception) and 15 touchdowns.
Considering the 2010 season an anomaly, I removed it when averaging his yearly statistics. Without the 2010 season taken into consideration, Bowe averaged 68.6 receptions for 913 yards and scored 4.8 touchdowns, while averaging 13.3 yards per reception.
A major issue Bowe has is the reliability of his hands. Using ProFootballFocus' Premium Stats that date back to 2008, Bowe dropped 48 out of a possible 392 "catchable" passes, a 12% drop rate. Catchable passes are a more accurate stat than targets.
My main argument against signing one of the "Big 3" wide receivers (Bowe, Greg Jennings, Mike Wallace) is that with the Bills' limited salary cap space, the draft is a better option to find a receiver that can contribute the same as Bowe, at a far more team-friendly price tag, with their first round pick.
Buddy Nix described a "Big-time wide receiver that can catch when he's covered." I assumed this to mean a wideout that is plus-6 feet tall and over 200 pounds.
Projected 1st Round WRs
Keenan Allen, California, 6'3" 210 lbs
3 years- 205 receptions/2,570 yards/ 17 TD
2012- 61 receptions/ 737 yards/ 6 TD
Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee, 6'3" 205 lbs
2012- 46 receptions/ 778 yards/ 5 TD
DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson, 6'1" 200 lbs
3 years- 205 receptions/ 3,009 yards/ 27 TD
2012- 82 receptions/ 1,405 yards/ 18 TD
Projected Second Round WR
Terrance Williams, Baylor, 6'2" 200 lbs
4 years- 202 receptions/ 3,334 yards/ 27 TD
2012- 97 receptions/ 1,832 yards/ 12 TD
Aaron Dobson, Marshall, 6'3" 205
4 years- 165 receptions/ 2,398 yards/ 24 TD
2012- 57 receptions/ 679 yards/ 3 TD
Projected 3rd Round WR
Justin Hunter, Tennessee, 6'4" 200 lbs
3 years- 106 receptions/ 1,812 yards/ 18 TD
2012- 73 receptions/ 1,083 yards/ 9 TD
Da'Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech, 6'2" 205 lbs
3 year (2 w/ Tennessee, 1 w/ Tennessee Tech)- 156 receptions/ 2,414 yards/ 22 TD
2012- 781 receptions/ 1,207 yards/ 11 TD
This draft is extremely deep at the wide receiver position, and spending big money at the position, when the team would be better off targeting ILB/ OLB/ TE/ SS in free agency, would simply be unwise. All of these receivers from rounds 1 through 3 can be expected to produce the 62+ catches, 913 yards, and 4 TD that Bowe can be relied upon for, and at a far more reasonable price.
Bowe is the sexy name, and would be a flashy signing, but I really don't think he's a true No. 1 receiver worth $10 million a year.
What do you think, Rumblers?