Despite the guaranteed payday that comes with it, NFL players are loathe to accept the franchise tag. But it can be just as frustrating for the teams that hand out those tags.
Which brings us to the cautionary tale -- though, "cautionary fail" might be more fitting -- of Dwayne Bowe.
The NFL's extended trade deadline came and went Thursday without the Kansas City Chiefs moving Bowe. The 28-year-old wide receiver, who's earning $9.5 million under the franchise tag this season, then went out on Thursday night and caught eight passes for 79 yards in Kansas City's latest loss. Bowe also fumbled to kill an early drive, but aside from that, he looked every bit the part of a top-flight receiver.
And now, the Chiefs are stuck with him for eight more games, after which he'll either leave via free agency or they'll have to hit him with an even more lucrative franchise tag.
The Chiefs, now 1-7 on the season, likely would have jumped at a reasonable offer for Bowe prior to the deadline. The reasons 31 other teams shied away were numerous: questions about Bowe's work ethic, the $5 million he's still owed for the remainder of this season, the difficulties of teaching a receiver a new system in short order, rumblings that he would not sign a long-term deal with a new team ...
Kansas City's 2011 draft pick of Jonathan Baldwin was made, at least in part, with the hope that Baldwin eventually could replace Bowe. He should get his chance in 2013 -- a team that could be in full rebuilding mode like the Chiefs probably won't spend upwards of $10 million on a potentially disgruntled player like Bowe.
By not trading him, the Chiefs more or less have resigned themselves to getting just a compensatory pick should Bowe leave in free agency -- something like a third- or fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft.
That's hardly worth the investment Kansas City made in Bowe this season.
Bowe has 45 catches for 571 yards and three touchdowns this season, team-bests all, but the current situation makes it easy for Chiefs fans to look back and second-guess the team's decision to tag Bowe. By doing so, Kansas City let top cornerback Brandon Carr walk into free agency (he signed with Dallas). Carr's replacement, Stanford Routt, has been disappointing, to say the least.
Would this season have played out any differently if the Chiefs had held onto Carr and allowed Bowe to bail?
Maybe. Maybe not. The Bucs showed Thursday, though, that it's easier to deal a cornerback than a wide receiver, as they shot Aqib Talib to the Patriots for a fourth-round pick. In a worst-case scenario, Kansas City probably could have unloaded Carr on a playoff contender prior to the deadline. Instead, the Chiefs sat idly by as that deadline past, then went out and lost another game with Bowe on the roster.