The Kansas City Chiefs drafted wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin with their first pick (26th overall) in the 2011 NFL draft. Since being drafted, Baldwin has really struggled to make an impact for the Chiefs, only recording 41 receptions and 2 touchdowns in his two seasons. The only time that Baldwin was really involved in the passing game in his rookie season was the Monday night game against the Chargers on Halloween night. He caught 5 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.
It seemed liked Baldwin was going to be the answer to finding the Chiefs number two receiver, opposite Dwayne Bowe. As the season went on, Baldwin disappeared. He struggled to run routes and get open for the quarterbacks, which were the same problems he struggled with last season.
Baldwin stands at 6’4, weighs 230 pounds and is considered a physical specimen at wide receiver, a big part of why he was drafted in the first round. His physical abilities allowed him to be successful in college, often winning with height and speed.
In the NFL, defensive backs are physical specimens as well. If you can’t run good routes, and find ways to get open, physical ability will only get you so far.
Baldwin had a great camp last season, but has come in this year really struggling. He’s dropped a lot of passes in practice, which carried over in Friday nights game against the 49ers. On a 2nd and 2 play, Baldwin dropped a very nice pass from quarterback Alex Smith that would’ve been a significant gain and first down. The drop seemed to be what killed the drive and the next play, Smith was sacked and the drive officially stalled.
Reid may be losing patience with Baldwin: “I can tell you that when given the opportunity in this league you’d better catch the football.”
The problems the Chiefs have with cutting Baldwin are the salary cap, and finding some one as good or better to fill his role. If the Chiefs were to cut Baldwin, his salary would still be placed on the cap at just over $2 million this season, so the Chiefs probably figure to just hold on and try to get something out of him. But if they do decide to part ways, there are decent options in free agency that could be stop-gaps for the Chiefs this upcoming season.
Some of the remaining names in free agency include, Brandon Lloyd, Devery Henderson, and Laurent Robinson. Lloyd has had reliable hands his entire career, and is a hometown native of Kansas City. Henderson is a speedy receiver who has ability to stretch the field, much like Donnie Avery. Both are veteran players that could be nice additions if the Chiefs do decide to go the other way with Baldwin.
So far this preseason, no one has been able to step up for the Chiefs at the number two receiver spot. It’s an issue that could really haunt the Chiefs this season. Defenses will roll coverage to Dwayne Bowe every Sunday, knowing the Chiefs don’t have another option outside.
If Baldwin has another bad week of practice and doesn’t play well next week in Pittsburgh, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get cut. The likely hood is that Baldwin stays, but if the coaches and front offices patience wears too thin, Baldwin may be searching for a new team.
What say the rest of the Kingdom? Should the Chiefs part ways with Baldwin, or hold on and see if he can step up and be the guy?