Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback question


Dec 21, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the second half at Heinz Field. The Steelers won the game, 20-12. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

As expectation builds towards seeing the Kansas City Chiefs in action again, one position that remains unclear is the quarterback situation behind Alex Smith. After recently cutting Terrelle Pryor, the back up spots behind Smith are up in the air.

The Chiefs have four quarterbacks from last season in Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray and Tyler Bray alongside Smith as well as two undrafted free agents, Bo Wallace and Cody Sokol, on the roster. Reid and Dorsey chose not to draft a quarterback, and with options in Bryce Petty and Brett Hundley available, some suggested they should have. Kansas City looks set on the six quarterbacks in house to challenge throughout the summer.

Smith, love him or hate him, will be the Chiefs’ quarterback in 2015. Smith will never be an elite quarterback who is able to carry a lackluster offense to a divisional championship and playoff victory. Still, he is a smart game-manager who looks after the ball and commits  few turnovers.

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Smith threw 18 touchdowns to six interceptions last season. Three of those interceptions came against the Tennessee Titans in the abysmal opening day defeat. He will never be an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, but he is a competent conductor of the Kansas City offense, at least for the coming season.

However, with six quarterbacks on the roster and the recent release of Pryor, this leads me to wonder; who should be the backup to Smith in 2015?

Chase Daniel is now in prime position to retain the backup role. He did an ample job last season, stepping in for Smith in Week 17 against the San Diego Chargers and earning a victory. I would be quite happy with Daniel as backup for Smith, if not for one reason: his wage bill. Per Over the Cap, Daniel’s cap hit is $4.8 million.

Some people will say this is good value. The decimation of the Arizona Cardinals’ quarterbacks cost them a playoff run last year. However, like when buying home insurance, it always seems like an unnecessary bill. If the Chiefs’ cut Daniel, they will alleviate $3.8 million in cap space, with $1 million in dead money. Could this money be spent more effectively elsewhere?

“Now, they bring in a kid as clean as can be. The Chiefs have their young, developmental guy.” – Mike Mayock

If Daniel is considered too expensive, and general manager John Dorsey decides to cut him, then the backup position could fall to Aaron Murray, a 2014 fifth-round draft pick out of Georgia. Murray has been compared to Drew Brees and Russell Wilson in the sense that he’s a diminutive, game-managing pocket passer. Murray is a highly intelligent player with good football knowledge of defensive keys. His draft stock was hurt significantly by his recovery from a torn ACL, but Gil Brandt saw Murray as an absolute steal, rating him very highly.

The other quarterback currently on the Chiefs’ roster is Bray. Unfortunately, Bray recently tore his ACL, and will most likely be unavailable for the 2015 season. Bray was undrafted out of Tennessee, but was considered to have a potential elite-level arm, although lacked the desired mobility in the modern NFL. Currently battling with Murray for the third quarterback position on the roster, Bray’s future with the Chiefs is in doubt, and if the two UDFA’s, Wallace and Sokol, impress throughout the offseason, Bray could find himself out of contract.

Personally, I would like to see Daniel cut, with Murray taking the backup role, to allow Kansas City some more wiggle room with the cap. Dorsey performed miracles during free agency, signing Jeremy Maclin, Ben Grubbs and Tyvon Branch among others seemingly without any cap space at all. However, this roster still has some major holes across the offensive line and at wide receiver, and some more cap space would allow Dorsey to be aggressive in pursuing further free agents who might be cut during training camp.

Ultimately, I believe Dorsey will see the extra money spent on Daniel is money well spent. They will go into the season with Daniel and then Murray behind Smith, with then one of Bray, Wallace or Sokol sneaking onto the roster as a fourth quarterback. I would love to see Murray given the backing to become the second fiddle to Smith, but this looks unlikely with Dorsey holding onto Daniel throughout free agency. The backup role seems to be Daniel’s to lose.

So, Chiefs fans, would you be happy with a quarterback trio of Smith, Daniel and Murray heading into 2015? Or like me, does Daniel seem like an expense not worth paying?