Chase Daniel Latest Longtime Backup Who Would Flop as NFL Starter

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Chase Daniel Latest Longtime Backup Who Would Flop as NFL Starter
George Bridges/Associated Press

There are certain facts about the National Football League. Quarterback is the most sought-after position in the game. There aren't as many quality NFL starters at the position as there are teams. And those quality starters very rarely get anywhere near the open market.

That creates a sense of desperation among teams where the signal-callers who do reach free agency are concerned. Since even marginal starters (paging Sam Bradford) rarely become available, teams convince themselves that longtime backups are "ready for their shot." That they are more than what they are.

We've seen it happen over and over again. And we may be about to see it happen with Chase Daniel.

Daniel, who spent the last three of his seven NFL seasons backing up Alex Smith with the Kansas City Chiefs, is due to become a free agent. And according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, the man who spent those three years as Daniel's offensive coordinator might just be interested in bringing Daniel with him to the City of Brotherly Love:

Bill Barnwell of ESPN.com is on board with the idea:

Without an obvious avenue to a franchise quarterback at the moment, the Eagles should bide their time and work with the options they have. Mark Sanchez has an obviously low ceiling, but he's still one of the league's better backup quarterbacks. It would make sense to pair him with the 29-year-old Daniel, an unrestricted free agent who spent the past three years working underneath Pederson in Kansas City. Daniel is basically an unknown -- he collected $10 million for throwing a total of 68 passes during his three years in Kansas City -- but he's more valuable to the Eagles than he would be to just about any other team in football. It's far more logical for the Eagles to risk $6 million on Daniel in 2016 than it is to pay Bradford three times as much.

There are those who think that this could just be a (misguided) attempt by the Eagles to gain some leverage in contract negotiations with Bradford, who is also set to hit free agency:

Or it could be that Pederson has actually seen Bradford play, and the prospect of paying Bradford $15 million-plus a season to be mediocre doesn't appeal to the first-time head coach.

In any event, it isn't as if Daniel's done absolutely nothing in seven years in the NFL. Daniel has shown more than a few flashes in the preseason, both in Kansas City and New Orleans. In the 2015 preseason alone Daniel completed over 75 percent of his throws, tossed five touchdown passes and posted a passer rating of over 120.

Chase Daniel Preseason 2013-2015
Year Comp. Att. Pct. Yards TD INT Rating
2013 30 48 62.5 272 1 1 76.0
2014 15 21 71.4 195 1 1 96.3
2015 41 53 77.4 388 5 1 120.6

Per NFL.com

Of course, that was against second and third-stringers playing vanilla defensive schemes, but still...it's a start, right?

And Daniel does have a modicum of starting experience in the NFL. In both 2014 and 2013, Daniel started Week 17 contests against the San Diego Chargers. In splitting that pair of games, Daniel wasn't terrible.

Chase Daniel NFL Starts
Year Week Opp. Comp. Att. Yards TD INT
2013 17 @SD 21 30 200 1 0
2014 17 SD 16 27 157 0 0

Per NFL.com

Of course, he wasn't really good either, never topping 200 passing yards and throwing only one touchdown pass.

Analyst Benjamin Allbright, who specializes in the quarterback position, conceded that there is some reason for optimism where Daniel as a starter is concerned:

Of course, that lukewarm recommendation of Daniel really tells you everything you need to know about the 29-year-old.

The fact is, Daniel is a popgun-armed passer who wasn't even drafted coming out of Missouri. Success in the preseason means exactly nothing when games start to count. And given his limitations, there isn't much reason to think that preseason success will carry over once defensive coordinators start game-planning to shut Daniel down.

ESPN.com's Phil Sheridan isn't buying the notion of Daniel in any way being a better option under center for the Eagles in 2016 than Bradford:

If Daniel was a young, up-and-coming talent, it might be appealing to sign him as a free agent. But Daniel is a year older than Bradford. He has played less football than Bradford during the last three seasons without tearing his ACL. Daniel is 6-foot, which makes him four inches shorter than Bradford.

That doesn’t mean that Daniel can’t be a good starting quarterback. It just means there is absolutely no evidence that he is a good starting quarterback.

There's also the small matter of this scenario having played out several times in recent years. And every time we saw this movie the ending was the same.

Matt Cassel. Matt Flynn. Kevin Kolb. All three parlayed glimpses of success into free-agent paydays and a chance to start in the NFL.

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Cassel was the best of the bunch, making 64 starts after his magical run in place of injured Tom Brady in 2008 for the New England Patriots. He's had one good season since—and a bushel of bad ones.

Kolb couldn't stay healthy and struggled mightily when he could in Arizona. Flynn was beaten out in training camp in Seattle by Russell Wilson and was historically awful for the Oakland Raiders.

There's a reason why career backups are career backups.

If Pederson has decided that Bradford isn't the answer for the Eagles at quarterback, that's fine. But let's not go making Daniel out to be something he isn't.

With the 13th pick in this year's NFL draft, the odds of landing a franchise quarterback aren't great. Roll Daniel out there, and the team will probably be no better off in the short term than with Mark Sanchez.

Let that sentence sink in for a moment. No better off in the short term than with Mark Sanchez.

So Pederson had best tread lightly. Because if he goes with Daniel and the movie plays out the way that movie always does, by the time the Eagles find a franchise quarterback someone else will be coaching the team.

 

Gary Davenport is an NFL analyst at Bleacher Report, a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPSharks.

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