In re-signing wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and punter Dustin Colquitt to long-term contracts, general manager John Dorsey was doing more than retaining two of the Chiefs’ better players.
He was also trying to send a message to those who follow them.
“What we are trying to do here is establish a winning culture,” Dorsey said. “Hopefully, as we go along here, players will understand that. It shows the players that if you perform at a high level and you do your part, this organization is willing to do its part, too.”
Dorsey and the Chiefs continued their flurry of financial business Tuesday by agreeing on terms of a contract restructure with Tyson Jackson, allowing the Chiefs to retain the veteran defensive end as well. Dorsey wouldn’t confirm the move and exact figures were not available but a source familiar with the deal said it cuts greatly into Jackson’s salary cap figure, which had been $17.47 million.
The recent moves, including the trade with San Francisco for quarterback Alex Smith and the designation of left tackle Branden Albert as the franchise player, represent a new way of doing business for the Chiefs. Under former general manager Scott Pioli, the Chiefs were usually flush with salary cap room but didn’t always accommodate their better players with expiring contracts.
The Chiefs under Pioli did re-sign linebacker Tamba Hali and cornerback Brandon Flowers to market contracts, but re-signed linebacker Derrick Johnson and Jamaal Charles with deals that were favorable to the team.
Last year they lost cornerback Brandon Carr as a free agent and retained Bowe only on a one-year contract as the franchise player.
It’s entirely possible that if Pioli was still running the franchise, the Chiefs wouldn’t have traded for Smith, Bowe would be the franchise player and Albert and Colquitt would be preparing to become free agents.
The contracts given to Bowe and Colquitt are impressive for the players. Bowe’s five-year is reportedly worth $56 million and includes $26 million in guarantees. That’s the third richest for a wide receiver.
Colquitt’s five-year deal is worth $18.75 million and makes him the NFL’s highest-paid punter.
Colquitt said he was convinced when last season ended that he would become a free agent and move on to another team. A conversation with Dorsey began to change his mind.
“He basically said that he doesn’t know what’s gone on in the past here but that he was going to do things a certain way now,” Colquitt said.
Dorsey then finished the job on Colquitt with a large contract offer. There are risks in signing older players to lucrative, long-term contracts but Dorsey said he wasn’t particularly concerned with Bowe and Colquitt.
“When you do something like this, there’s risk and there’s reward,” Dorsey said. “When you have the caliber of coach like we have in Andy Reid, you’re going to make these types of personnel decisions because I believe in Andy and the coaching staff he assembled. These are good coaches and they’re going to maximize the abilities of our players.”
Dorsey said the Chiefs had the moves with Bowe, Albert and Colquitt in mind since shortly after he and Reid arrived in Kansas City.
“This was the first phase of that plan,” Dorsey said. “That plan was to take care of those players we felt could help us.
“By doing the moves we did, it gives us great flexibility. That’s first and foremost. We can do many different options as the league year begins and as free agency begins. It gives us options when the draft comes along.”
Bowe cut short a tropical vacation to return to Kansas City on Tuesday and meet with Dorsey and Reid.
“I find him to be a very engaging young man,” Dorsey said. “He’s a receiver and receivers have unique personalities. But he’s a very talented guy. We sat and talked. I told him it’s his responsibility to uphold his end of the bargain. He said he understood the challenge ahead and he totally embraced that challenge.
“He is ready to take that position of being one of the top receivers in professional football.”
Albert missed five starts late last season with back spasms, but Dorsey said the Chiefs have no concerns about his ability to play a full season.
“His back is fine,” Dorsey said. “He passed our physical.”