In just twenty short days, the RED team will finally take the field in St Joe, trumpeting the start of another NFL season. Yes Chiefs fans, Training Camp is upon us… and while there are many familiar faces, the number of starting and contributing positions up for grabs is higher than in recent memory.
In today’s NFL, there are more than just your typical 22 starters – the sub-package players are (in many cases) logging as many snaps as their peers at the top of the depth chart. Realistically speaking, each side of the ball has closer to 15(ish) primary contributors rather than the antiquated groups of 11 we’ve grown accustomed to.
There will be tough decisions up and down the roster when the bell tolls for final cut down. Over the next few weeks, our countdown to St. Joe will offer a series of positional breakdowns, highlighting the competitions you should be watching during Training Camp.
Naturally, we’ll start at the top – the glamour boys, the Quarterbacks:
No, Alex Smith hasn’t signed an extension yet. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is yet to be determined… as is whether or not it’s actually going to happen. Kansas City’s starting signal caller is widely considered a solid option but should not be confused with the premier players at his position.
Quarterback contracts have gotten downright silly in the past few years, especially considering that a second salary tier has not been established. At this juncture, most Quarterbacks in the NFL make $8M or less (rookies and backups, for the most part) or $16M+ (starters on their second or third contracts). Clearly that leaves a huge gap for the Chiefs to try and work with, but Alex Smith’s agent likely doesn’t want to be the first to surrender and create a “middle-ground” for QB salary negotiations.
Meanwhile, the competition for Alex Smith’s backup role (and scout team/third string) might be the least important battle at Training Camp this year… but it’s certain to get most of the headlines.
Chase Daniel is the obvious favorite to be Alex’s primary reinforcement, but I’m not sure that’s even set in stone. His experience is still abbreviated despite entering his fifth season as a pro. In his one start for the Chiefs (week 17 vs. San Diego) Daniel looked in-control of the offense, completing 25 of 38 passes and nearly leading the Chiefs’ scout team to victory over a playoff-bound division rival.
Tyler Bray went undrafted out of Tennessee in 2013 despite a wealth of talent. His powerful arm has been favorably compared to that of Jay Cutler and Joe Flacco, but his leadership, maturity, decision making and (perhaps most importantly) accuracy all leave something to be desired. While the Chiefs haven’t invested much of anything into him other than time, Bray does have an undeniable skill throwing the football and a year of NFL seasoning under his belt.
As if the Quarterback position wasn’t already a bit complicated, John Dorsey and Andy Reid decided to pluck former Georgia star Aaron Murray in the fifth round of the draft this year. I suppose Murray is a bit of a long-shot in terms of becoming an NFL star, but his college accolades are undeniable: he’s the SEC’s All-Time leader in completions, passing yards, total yards and passing TD’s.
Here’s the problem: all four Chiefs QB’s have a major flaw in their game.
Alex Smith is on the final year of his deal and looking for a significant pay raise while Daniel is still mostly unproven. The kids behind them are polar opposites of one another – Bray the prototype with a huge arm, Murray the smaller technician with elite accuracy. With so much uncertainty surrounding the position, it’s almost impossible to tell who the odd man out will be.
There’s also a possibility the Chiefs could simply keep all four QB’s, knowing that neither of their youngsters could be stashed on the practice squad. Call me crazy, but I think this is the most likely option. Keeping four QB’s on a 53-man roster is sort of ridiculous, but as our series goes on we’ll tally the numbers at each position and you can decide for yourself.
Stay tuned as we count down the days to St Joe and keep your eyes peeled for my other positional breakdowns, as well as a podcast or two to help get your mind back on football.
July 4: Quarterbacks
July 6: Running Backs
July 8: Wide Receivers
July 10: Tight Ends
July 12: Offensive Line
July 14: Defensive Line
July 16: Linebackers
July 18: Cornerbacks
July 20: Safeties
July 22: Kickers
July 24: Training Camp Begins