Dwayne Bowe's $56 Million Deal Makes No Sense

You have to love more than $10 million a year for one of the worst receivers in the NFL

Dwayne Bowe is now the third-highest paid receiver in the NFL. I wish I was making that up. No, really, I do. Nik may have written that Joe Flacco's deal was an absolute joke, but Dwayne Bowe's new deal is an affront to good taste and NFL fans everywhere.

I know the reasoning; it's been shoved down my throat enough times at this point. Dwayne Bowe is athletic. Dwayne Bowe can get separation. Dwayne Bowe gives Alex Smith a target to throw to. And guess what? It doesn't mean a single thing if Bowe is one of the single most inefficient receivers in the entire NFL.

Don't believe me? Then take a look at the stats, mostly our NEP number. NEP stands for Net Expected Points, and just like the name would have you believe, it measures how many expected points above or below the league-average play that a player has gained his team. For receivers, this can be measured both as a function of catches (if they don't catch the ball, the play isn't charged to the receiver) and targets (as long as the ball goes their way, it counts). Alongside NEP/catch (NEP per catch) and a receiver's catch rate (the number of balls thrown his way actually caught), we can figure out just how much value a player brings to a team.

2012 Bowe by the Numbers

It's funny that Dwyane Bowe is receiving this contract off of his performance last year for the Chiefs. Over his 13 games played, he didn't even manage to add a point and a half per game to his Chiefs team.

GPReceptionsTargetsReceiving NEP (Catches)Receiving NEP (Targets)NEP/CatchCatch Rate

That 0.68 NEP per catch statistic is a low figure and not indicative of a "playmaker"; Vincent Jackson, for example, ended 2012 at 1.00 NEP per catch, and the league average was right around 0.75 NEP per catch. To put it in non-math terms, Dwayne Bowe wasn't adding as much value to his team per catch as the league-average receiver.

That might not be too bad if he was a high-catch slot receiver, such as Welker, whose main purpose was a series of low-yardage, high efficiency catches. But when paired with his absolutely abysmal catch rate, Bowe actually becomes one of the worst receivers in the NFL. Of the 73 players with at least 80 total targets (five per game) this season, Dwayne Bowe finished exactly 63rd in terms of catch rate. Of the guys below him, only Kenny Britt, Denarius Moore, and poor, sad Larry Fitzgerald had as low of an NEP/catch statistic.

But Zach, you would be well within your rights to say, couldn't that just be his QB throwing the ball to him in bad spots? I mean, the second most receptions on the team was Tony Freaking Moeaki, and he finished with season with...

GPReceptionsTargetsReceiving NEP (Catches)Receiving NEP (Targets)NEP/CatchCatch Rate

Yup. That would be a better NEP per catch average, better catch rate, and over half of Bowe's NEP total despite being Tony Moeaki. Imagine that.

Just for fun, let's compare him to another free agent, say, Brandon Gibson, formerly of the Rams. Gibson, by the way, did not even receive a sniff from St. Louis and is being looked at as a No. 2 or 3 receiver for most teams. Bradford may have been a slightly better option than the Chiefs' duo last season, but he still only had the 15th-best NEP per pass rating among QBs who started six games last year.

GPReceptionsTargetsReceiving NEP (Catches)Receiving NEP (Targets)NEP/CatchCatch Rate

So let's see, Gibson had 31 less targets, but more total NEP (based on both targets and catches), a higher NEP per catch, and a catch rate both above the league average and 11 percentage points higher than Bowe. If you think that Gibson will receive half the money that Bowe did, raise your hand. Yeah, that's what I thought.

Historical Bowe by the Numbers

This complete and utter lack of production isn't exactly anything new from Bowe. In fact, it's right in line with what he's done in his six seasons in the league.

YearGPReceptionsTargetsReceiving NEP (Catches)Receiving NEP (Targets)NEP/CatchCatch Rate

Would somebody like to tell me what in that list inspires confidence? Is it his complete and utter lack of catching ability, as he's never been above the league-average 60 percent catch rate his entire year? Or is it the mundane NEP per catch rates in every season except an outlier 2010 and his rookie campaign? Or how about averaging less than a field goal of value added per game to the Chiefs in four of his six seasons when you base his numbers on balls thrown his way? Boy, I'm excited for the Dwayne Bowe era now.

Well, guess what, Chiefs fans: you're going to have to talk yourself into it even more. Dwayne Bowe is locked in for the next five years, and there's nothing you can do about it. That sound you hear is Kansas City stat-heads crying out in pain. I feel you, brothers and sisters. I feel you.