Shane Buechele deserves a lot of credit for even getting this far.
Two years ago, Buechele was a rookie free agent signing for the Kansas City Chiefs hoping to latch on as the team's developmental arm, used on the scouting team during in-season practices and lingering in case a worst-case scenario somehow played out. The Chiefs often cycled through such prospects each offseason—from Kyle Shurmur to Anthony Gordon and Shea Patterson to Jordan Ta'amu. Buechele was next in line.
Midway through that 2021 season, however, something had changed. As the Arizona Cardinals tried to sign Buechele away from the Chiefs' practice squad, general manager Brett Veach responded by signing Buechele to the active roster to prevent the move from happening. Buechele has been there ever since.
Last year, Buechele was a healthy scratch for the season as part of the 53-man roster yet never activated on game days. That kept him securely in place but it also never led to playing time as Chad Henne was entrenched as QB2. Then Henne retired following the team's win in Super Bowl LVII.
Coming into the offseason, it made sense for Buechele to be handed the torch from there given his presence on the roster, but Blaine Gabbert was signed in April and became the latest veteran quarterback to come in and provide the team with a nice catalog of experience behind Patrick Mahomes. Until this year, Andy Reid has seemed to appreciate the seasoned vet as his primary backup. But what did this mean for Buechele?
So far, the battle for QB2 has become one of the toughest roster spots to predict with one preseason game to go. On Saturday against the Cardinals, Buechele completed all 10 passes thrown in a dazzling first half performance that showed what he could do. Yet Gabbert followed that up with a perfect passer rating after tossing two touchdowns himself in a very efficient effort. Even after two games, it was clear both players deserved a shot.
"It is a great room and there’s a lot of competition in that room and that’s what you want," said Buechele to reporters on Wednesday from practice. "You can get the best out of the guys and Coach Reid, [Matt] Nagy, [David] Girardi have done a really good job of making it a competition. It’s our job to go out on the field and play like we’re going to be the starter and prepare that way. So we take in the competition. We embrace it and try to put our best foot forward."
Buechele has never looked better for the Chiefs, which makes sense having had more time with the team and with Coach Reid's playbook. But Buechele says this is also the first time he's had continuity around him to let him blossom in this way. "This is really the first time that I’ve had an offense for three straight years dating back all the way to college, so my comfort in this offense has grown a ton. I feel a whole lot better being out on that field with my knowledge of the offense. That’s the number one thing."
As for what will happen when roster cuts are due next week is anyone's guess. However, Buechele has been throught his before and has to feel good about the work he's put in.
"That day is always tough," says Buechele. "You never know what’s going to happen. You just hope and pray that your play in the preseason did a good enough job to put enough pressure on Coach Reid and Veach and all those guys in the office. It’s a tough day but we’ll see what happens when it gets here."