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3 veteran options for Chiefs to consider at backup quarterback

SB Nation logo SB Nation 3/24/2023 Rocky Magana
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Shortly after winning Super Bowl LVII, the Kansas City Chiefs' 37-year-old backup quarterback, Chad Henne, announced his retirement.

Henne had grown into a folk hero in Kansas City for stepping up whenever his number was called. None was more important or memorable than when Henne stepped in for reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes in the AFC Divisional Round game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, leading the Chiefs on a 12-play, 98-yard drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce.

When it looked like the boat was about to capsize and the season with it, Henne came in and kept the ship afloat.

When you think about what Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is looking for in a backup quarterback, Henne is the prototype. Reid doesn't need his backup to try and be Patrick Mahomes 2.0. There is only one Mahomes, and if he's not in the game, something has gone terribly wrong. Reid wants an experienced veteran who knows the entire playbook and can come in and run the offense without turning the ball over.

With that in mind, a guy like Cam Newton, who may still think he can start in the NFL, is probably not the best fit for that role. And neither is a developmental quarterback, such as the current backups on the roster: Shane Buechele and Chris Oladokun.

The player also needs to be affordable. Over the last four seasons, Henne averaged about $2.5 million a year in salary. Here are three possibilities that I came up with:

1. Teddy Bridgewater

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Bridgewater would be the most high-end backup quarterback the Chiefs have had since Mahomes' rookie season. He is coming off an injury-shortened season where he started one game for the Miami Dolphins. The price for Bridgewater may be a little rich for the Chiefs' blood, considering he played on a one-year, $6.5 million fully guaranteed contract last season. But he's also been on four different teams in four years.

Is this the offseason where he officially switches from a borderline starter to a guy happy to carry a clipboard? At 30 years old, Bridgewater still has a lot of good football left in him while possessing the requisite experience to fill the role. In 65 career NFL starts, his record is 33-32 with 75 touchdowns and 47 interceptions. Bridgewater is a high-percentage passer with a career completion percentage of 66.4%.

2. Trevor Siemian

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Siemian spent last season backing up a different dynamic playmaking quarterback in Justin Fields. Still only 31 years old, Siemian may fit better for the Chiefs financially — Siemian is coming off a two-year, $4 million contract with $3 million guaranteed. While Siemian doesn't have the same number of starts as Bridgewater, he still has 30 starts to his name. Like Bridgewater, Siemian will be playing for his fourth team in four years and boasts a respectable 42:28 touchdown-to-interception ratio while averaging about 200 passing yards per game. Siemian is not the guy who will come into the game and light up the scoreboard, but he will keep things close and give you a chance to win the game. Siemian should also be familiar with the Chiefs since 24 of his 30 career starts came while he was the starting quarterback for the Chiefs' AFC West rivals, the Denver Broncos.

3. Blaine Gabbert

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The former Missouri standout has spent the last three seasons backing up future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. In 11 years in the league, Gabbert has 48 starts to his name with a 51-47 touchdown to interception ratio. Gabbert has played for $2 million a year or less for the last seven seasons, so his price seems relatively set. That means negotiations shouldn't be too bad.

The drawback to Gabbert is that he won't offer you much in the way of pushing the ball downfield. In his lone game of action last year, he averaged just 3.6 air yards per attempt— but as recently as 2020, that number was 8.9. Gabbert is from Ballwin, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis, and he may be at a point in his career where playing closer to home matters to him.

Honorable mentions: Chase Daniel, Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen


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