The one-game suspension of Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe could, in hindsight, become the domino that ultimately gives the Browns a replacement for Josh Gordon.
The suspension most likely voids the remaining fully guaranteed money in Bowe’s contract: $8.75 million in 2014 and $1.5 million in 2015. It creates a window for the Chiefs to dump Bowe, avoiding more than $10 million and creating an immediate $8.75 million in 2014 cap space. (The extra cap space now would almost entirely offset the $9 million cap charge they’d take in 2015, due to the post-June 1 move.)
Unless Bowe’s contract specifically was negotiated to remove now-standard language voiding future guarantees in the event of a suspension, the Chiefs could make a move at any point after Bowe’s one-week exile begins, but before the moment that his salary becomes guaranteed as “termination pay,” a benefit for all players with four or more years of service who are on a team’s Week One roster.
If Bowe is cut, he’d become a free agent. And if Browns receiver Josh Gordon is suspended for a full year, Cleveland would have a clear need at receiver.
And Browns G.M. Ray Farmer worked for the Chiefs when Bowe was drafted. And Farmer’s advisor, Bill Kuharich, served as the V.P. of player personnel in Kansas City when the Chiefs drafted Bowe.
The Chiefs also could trade Bowe to the Browns (or anyone else), but it would make no sense for Cleveland (or anyone else) to assume the obligation to pay him $8.75 million for 2014 if they can sign him for less on the open market.
Of course, coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan would have to believe that Bowe could learn Shanahan’s offense. But both Cleveland and Kansas City rely on West Coast-style offenses, making the potential transition easier.
Regardless of where Bowe ends up, the suspension gives the Chiefs the opportunity to block more than $10 million that currently is fully guaranteed to him. If they choose to do so, Bowe’s most obvious next destination would become Cleveland.