Kansas City Chiefs: Chase Daniel

Let's take a closer look at the salary-cap situation for the Kansas City Chiefs. As of last week, and this information should still be up to date, the Chiefs had $4,379,280 of remaining salary-cap space. That ranked 25th among the NFL's 32 teams.

Here, we'll look at how the Chiefs' cap situation breaks down with regard to offensive positions. Later, we'll look at defense and special teams.

Quarterbacks

Salary-cap commitments: $11,898,333

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 9.2

NFL average: $11,667,289

Chiefs rank on QB spending: 15th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs are spending about 2 percent more than the league average on their quarterbacks. This will change when they extend the contract of starter Alex Smith, who currently counts $8 million against their cap. That's tied for the 15th-highest QB cap number with Oakland's Matt Schaub. Chase Daniel's salary-cap number of $3.4 million is fifth among players listed as backups on their team's depth chart, but Daniel is the only one of those five who has never been a starter.

Running backs

Salary-cap commitments: $7,775,255

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 6

NFL average: $7,750,422

Chiefs rank on RB spending: 13th among 32 teams

Analysis: Again, the Chiefs are very close to the league average in spending at this position. Most of their cap allotment at this position goes, of course, to Jamaal Charles. His cap number is $5,233,333. Charles is still a bargain at that price. His cap number is just 10th among NFL running backs this year. Knile Davis has the Chiefs' next highest cap number for a running back at $646,504 but that puts him far down the league's list of runners.

Wide receivers

Salary-cap commitments: $16,366,594

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 12.7

NFL average: $13,534,504

Chiefs rank on WR spending: ninth among 32 teams

Analysis: Here's where the Chiefs' spending gets out of line, both for the league average and what they're getting for the money. The Chiefs are spending 21.75 percent more than the league average on wide receivers but last season that group was last in the league in pass receptions and yardage. Dwayne Bowe leads the way with a $12 million cap charge. That's the sixth-highest cap number in the NFL for a player who caught 57 passes for 673 yards and five touchdowns during the regular season last year.

Tight ends

Salary-cap commitments: $6,122,076

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 4.7

NFL average: $6,137,131

Chiefs rank on TE spending: 15th among 32 teams

Analysis: The Chiefs are spending very close to the league average at this position. Most of their spending here goes to the starter, Anthony Fasano. His cap number is $4,281,250, giving him the 11th highest figure at his position. Travis Kelce has the next highest cap number for a tight end at $700,826 but he's well down the league list for this position.

Offensive linemen

Salary-cap commitments: $12,314,356

Percent of Chiefs' total cap: 9.5

NFL average: $21,449,958

Chiefs rank on OL spending: 31st among 32 teams

Analysis: Here the Chiefs drop well below the league average in positional spending. Only the Detroit Lions are spending less in salary cap on their offensive line. This is the byproduct of allowing three regulars from last season to leave as free agents. Meanwhile, the linemen who have the top three salary-cap figures are working under the contracts they signed as rookies. Left tackle Eric Fisher, the first overall pick in last year's draft, has far and away the highest salary-cap number for a lineman at $5,043,295. Even at that, Fisher has the 43rd highest cap number for an offensive lineman. Left guard Jeff Allen ($1,266,497) and center Rodney Hudson ($1,115,577) are next.

Q and A: Should KC draft a QB?

February, 22, 2014
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Another week, another excellent batch of Kansas City Chiefs questions for the mailbag. Here we go:
 

Rookie report: QB Tyler Bray

February, 17, 2014
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How acquired: 2013 undrafted free agent.

2013 season: Bray was the definition of a developmental quarterback. He didn't play during the regular season and was inactive for 15 of the 16 games. He showed considerable skill during training camp and did some good things during the preseason but he was the third quarterback all season behind Alex Smith and Chase Daniel.

Looking ahead: The Chiefs have a lot to work with in Bray, who has a lot of natural ability. He may have more ability to make all the necessary throws than either Smith or Daniel. If Bray doesn't eventually become a good NFL quarterback, it will be because of his work habits and his ability to handle the mental part of the game. If he had those qualities in abundance, he would have been drafted. So it could take some more time for Bray. A reasonable goal for 2014 is that he issues a strong challenge to Daniel as the leading backup. Bray still may be a year away from even that. Either way, it's in the Chiefs' best interest to be patient with Bray. They haven't had a young quarterback with his kind of tools in years.
More good questions came my way in this week's Kansas City Chiefs mailbag. On with it.
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No room for their own free agents?

February, 11, 2014
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The Kansas City Chiefs were over the NFL’s estimated 2014 salary limit by about $2 million last week, before they released veteran cornerback Dunta Robinson. Now that Robinson’s gone, the Chiefs are under the estimated cap of about $126 million, but not by much.

They will find enough wiggle room as they move along to sign their draft picks and dabble in free agency as well. But this will be a different year for the Chiefs than they’ve had for some time as far as offseason spending. Last year, for example, they re-signed wide receiver Dwayne Bowe to a lucrative, long-term contract, made left tackle Branden Albert their franchise player at a hefty price tag, picked up a big salary when they traded for quarterback Alex Smith and then forked over significant cash in signing free agents like cornerback Sean Smith, defensive lineman Mike DeVito, tight end Anthony Fasano, wide receiver Donnie Avery and backup quarterback Chase Daniel.

So, yes, things will be different for the Chiefs this year. There may be no room for some of their own free agents. The Chiefs appear to be grooming Sanders Commings, a rookie last season who will make the minimum salary in 2014, to replace Kendrick Lewis at free safety. The Chiefs signed CFL veteran wide receiver/kick returner Weston Dressler, also at the minimum, perhaps to replace Dexter McCluster. The Chiefs might make an effort to re-sign defensive end Tyson Jackson, but if he’s too expensive the Chiefs have Allen Bailey ready to step in.

Albert is perhaps the most productive player of the bunch. He was a Pro Bowler last season, a more than capable left tackle.

But the Chiefs drafted tackle Eric Fisher last year with the first overall pick anticipating this scenario. Fisher can move to the left side and the Chiefs have Donald Stephenson, who they believe is a capable starter, to play right tackle.

Albert wants to be paid a premium salary and there’s no shame in that. If he’s ever going to get a huge long-term contract, it’s going to be at this time of his career.

He’s just not going to get it from the Chiefs. In that respect, he could be like a lot of his teammates who are prospective free agents. He could be playing for another team next season, perhaps even against the Chiefs.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- We've already established that signing quarterback Alex Smith to a long-term contract extension is the best course of action for the Kansas City Chiefs this offseason. But let's examine another scenario.

Smith
Would it be better for the Chiefs to throw numbers at the quarterback position rather than sink a ton of money for the long term into Smith? For those who have ESPN Insider access, Ron Jaworski suggests it might be a good idea for the Chiefs to draft a quarterback in an early round this year and groom him as Smith's successor.

There's merit to this idea. The Chiefs would then have four quarterbacks from which to choose next season: Smith, veteran backup Chase Daniel, developmental prospect Tyler Bray and a rookie.

In 2015, assuming the Chiefs haven't re-signed Smith, he would depart as a free agent, leaving the Chiefs to choose from the other three as their starting QB.

Again, not sure this is the best way for the Chiefs to go. Smith has put three solid seasons together and could be at a point in his career where things are coming together for him, as they did for Drew Brees several years ago.

But two of the NFL's best teams, the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, are where they are because over the last three years they identified and drafted quarterbacks and are now starting them at a young age. Neither Russell Wilson nor Colin Kaepernick is occupying much of his team's salary cap, leaving those clubs free to spend heavily around their quarterback.

Maybe in the absence of having a true superstar quarterback, this is the way for teams to operate. Of course, the Chiefs would need to identify the right QB and then commit to him.

That's what general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid get paid for, to identify that guy and make a player of him. The Chiefs don't have their second-round draft pick again this year, having sent it to the San Francisco 49ers as part of the deal for Smith.

So if the Chiefs are to get their QB this year, it would probably have to be in the first round. If, say, Central Florida's Blake Bortles or another quarterback they really like is available when the Chiefs make the 23rd overall pick, there are worse moves they could make than to draft him.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If the Kansas City Chiefs can get their starting quarterback signed to a contract extension, they should be set for the short and long terms.

Roster (3): Tyler Bray, Chase Daniel, Alex Smith.

Potential 2014 free agents: none.

The position: Smith had a solid if not spectacular first season with the Chiefs. His new team didn’t do a very good job of surrounding him with talented receivers but Smith still threw for 3,313 yards and 23 touchdowns and had a strong showing in the playoff loss to Indianapolis. His ability to protect the ball (just 10 turnovers) and his running skills (431 rushing yards) shouldn’t be overlooked. Smith next season needs to raise his completion percentage (60.6 in 2013) and the Chiefs need to find him more receiving threats. But one of the Chiefs’ major offseason goals should be to get Smith, who is heading into the final year of his contract, signed to an extension.

The Chiefs took a chance on Daniel as their backup, giving him good money last year even though he had never started a game. They were relieved to see how well he played in starting the final regular season game against San Diego alongside a bunch of fellow backups. Daniel was 21-of-30 for 200 yards and a touchdown against an opponent playing to get into the playoffs. The Chiefs would have won the game had Ryan Succop made his field-goal attempt late in the fourth quarter. That game should eliminate any doubt about Daniel’s ability to adequately replace Smith over the short term. He remains a mystery, though, if the Chiefs need him over a period of multiple games. Bray joined the Chiefs last year as an undrafted rookie. Though he didn’t play in a regular season game, he showed enough skills for the Chiefs to keep and develop him. Bray has a great arm, perhaps better than those of Smith and Daniel, and can make all the necessary throws. It will be a disappointment if Bray doesn’t at least challenge Daniel for the No. 2 spot next season.

The Chiefs should keep: Bray, Daniel and Smith.

The Chiefs should dump: nobody.

Free agency/draft priority: The Chiefs have a starter who turns 30 in May, a relatively young backup and a developmental prospect with serious ability. So while they appear set, the search for a quarterback should never end. The Chiefs don’t need to spend in free agency for a veteran or invest a high draft pick but if they like a prospect in the later rounds, that’s not a bad move.

Rapid Reaction: Kansas City Chiefs

December, 29, 2013
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SAN DIEGO -- A few thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs27-24 overtime loss to the San Diego Chargers:

What it means: The Chiefs have some good backup players. They took the Chargers deep into the fourth quarter before San Diego tied the score and then outlasted the Chiefs in overtime. Because the Chiefs were locked into the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs, a victory was meaningless. So coach Andy Reid rested 20 of Kansas City’s 22 starters, including all 11 on defense. With Chase Daniel making his first NFL start, the Chiefs put in a solid effort on both sides of the ball and almost denied the Chargers the AFC’s final playoff spot. The Chiefs finished the regular season at 11-5, an improvement of nine wins over 2012.

Stock watch: Rookie running back Knile Davis, playing for Jamaal Charles, started his first NFL game and delivered 81 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Daniel played about as well as the Chiefs could expect, completing 21 of 30 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown. Daniel also ran for 59 yards. An offensive line comprised of four backups and rookie right tackle Eric Fisher kept Daniel from being under consistent pressure and opened some nice holes for Davis. Cornerback Ron Parker had an interception to set up a Kansas City touchdown. Kicker Ryan Succop was wide right on a 41-yard field-goal attempt with eight seconds left in regulation that would have won the game for the Chiefs.

What's next: Heading to Indianapolis. The Chiefs will play the Colts in the first round of the playoffs next weekend. The 11-5 Colts, winners of the AFC South, beat the Chiefs 23-7 at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 22 by forcing four turnovers while committing none of their own. The Colts have beaten the Chiefs all three times the teams have met in the playoffs, in the 1995, 2003 and 2006 seasons.

Playing time would benefit Chase Daniel

December, 25, 2013
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Quarterback Chase Daniel's regular-season NFL playing experience is limited to nine passes in his four seasons as Drew Brees' backup with the New Orleans Saints, and eight passes this season as Alex Smith's understudy for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Daniel
Daniel might get to benefit the most of any Chiefs’ reserve player if he gets significant playing time in Sunday’s final regular-season game against the Chargers in San Diego. If he can get at least a half of playing time, that would be the most extended one-game experience of his career, at least in the regular season.

It’s of some benefit to the Chiefs to get Daniel some work in case he’s needed in the playoffs.

“These opportunities don’t come along all the time," said Smith, at times a backup earlier in his career with the San Francisco 49ers. “You don’t know when your next one is going to be.

“I think Chase does a great job. He’s very professional, and works extremely hard preparing himself week in and week out. Like I said, I think everybody, if you don’t have a ton of game experience and then all the sudden you (get to play in) the regular season, that is a great opportunity. Not just Chase if he does get in, (but) anybody. Only so many guys get to do this, and to be able to get that experience is invaluable.”

Daniel received extensive work in offseason practice, training camp and the preseason. But other than 26 snaps late in recent blowout victories against the Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders, that work has to last Daniel.

He gets no work with the starters in practice. He does take the scout team snaps mimicking the opposing team’s plays each week, but he doesn’t get to run Kansas City’s plays unless he gets into a game.

That, plus the chance to play a game at full speed, is the reason why the Chiefs need to get Daniel plenty of work in San Diego.

“It’s a good opportunity," Daniel said. “We’ll see what the coach decides at the end of the week. My mindset going is to prepare like the starter, just like I have my entire career."
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Caught between his wish to keep some key players fresh for the upcoming playoffs and a desire to see the struggling Kansas City Chiefs build some momentum, Andy Reid may play things down the middle in Sunday’s final regular-season game against the Chargers in San Diego.

Reid
Reid said starters and backups alike at all positions would get some practice time this week with the first team. He will then decide later in the week which starters will play against the Chargers and how much.

“I’m having practice just like we’re going to play the San Diego Chargers, which we are,’’ Reid said. “At the same time I’m going to work some guys in. I’ll figure it out by the end of the week exactly how we’re going to work it. They’re all going to practice. Every position is going to do [its] thing. Then we’ll just kind of ... mix and match.’’

The 11-4 Chiefs can’t help or hurt their playoff standing by winning or losing against the 8-7 Chargers. The Chiefs are locked in as the fifth seed in the AFC playoffs and will know sometime on Sunday which opponent they will face in the wild-card round of the playoffs the following weekend.

The Chiefs have some players who could benefit from a week off, most notably running back Jamaal Charles. Defensively, they have a few more candidates, including outside linebacker Tamba Hali. He didn’t practice Thursday because of soreness and swelling in his knee.

On the other hand, two injured players, outside linebacker Justin Houston and offensive tackle Branden Albert, were scheduled to return to practice on an every-down basis. They might benefit from getting in a few plays against the Chargers since they haven’t played in weeks.

Quarterback Alex Smith was preparing to play. If he does, he might not be in the game long. Backup Chase Daniel would likely play more than Smith.

“It’s not up to me,’’ said Smith, who had one of his worst games of the season last week against the Indianapolis Colts. “I’m getting ready for it. No answers yet. Just preparing to play and we’ll see what happens Sunday.

“If you play, the argument is that you’re staying in rhythm. You’re keeping your timing. The speed of the game, you’re staying used to it. The negative would be [the risk of] injury. Not playing, the benefit there is that you’re getting healthy and fresh.’’
It’s interesting that coach Andy Reid found it necessary after Thursday night’s final preseason game to declare without really even being asked that he was still comfortable with Chase Daniel as the Chiefs’ No. 2 quarterback.

[+] EnlargeTyler Bray
John Rieger/USA TODAY SportsChiefs quarterback Tyler Bray, a rookie out of Tennessee, showed off his passing skills against the Packers Thursday night.
Perhaps Reid anticipated the question would be coming. The difference in the play and production between Daniel and No. 3 quarterback Tyler Bray in the 30-8 win against Green Bay was dramatic enough to demand it.

Daniel opened in place of Alex Smith, who along with the rest of the starters was given the night off. Daniel forced his first throw into coverage and it was intercepted and his night didn’t get much better after that. He later took a sack when he held on to the ball too long with the Chiefs on the Green Bay 6, and they eventually had to settle for a field goal.

Bray, meanwhile, threw three touchdown passes. He was also far from perfect, throwing an interception, fumbling, taking three sacks and completing just 56 percent of his passes (14 of 25). While Daniel played against Green Bay’s starters and main reserves, Bray went against a group of Packers who will be released as soon as today.

But for the first time in the preseason Bray put his big arm on display. Reid was eager for this game so the Chiefs could get Bray some extended playing time and, the many rough edges aside, he had to be pleased with what he saw.

“Tyler did a nice job for a young guy stepping in and for most of (the game) put us in some form of a scoring position, whether it was a field goal or a touchdown,’’ Reid said.

Bray doesn’t look ready for a real game yet, so Reid is making the smart move by staying with Daniel as the top reserve. Things are at the point, though, where it makes sense to speed up the timetable on Bray’s development. Longer term, he offers more upside as Smith’s leading understudy.

The Chiefs shouldn’t deny Bray’s progress. His first touchdown pass, an eight-yard throw to Junior Hemingway, came with five seconds left in the first half and capped a well-orchestrated two-minute drill.

“I felt more relaxed after that,’’ Bray said. “I’ve been kind of anxious to throw one. We’ve been down in the red zone a couple of times and haven’t come away with a touchdown so we got that first one.’’
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Some observations at halftime from Arrowhead Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs lead the Green Bay Packers 13-6 in Thursday's preseason finale:
  • Chase Daniel didn't inspire much confidence during training camp, and he finished the exhibition season on a down note. Daniel started at quarterback in place of Alex Smith, who, like the other starters, didn't play. Daniel forced a throw into coverage on the first offensive play of the game and the pass was intercepted. Daniel later took a sack on a second-and-2 play from the Green Bay 6. He had plenty of time to unload the ball but instead took an eight-yard loss, and the Chiefs had to settle for a field goal.
  • Linebacker Frank Zombo is proving to be a nice free-agent signing. Because Pro Bowler Tamba Hali and Justin Houston are the starters at outside linebacker, Zombo is no threat to break into the lineup. But based on the way he's played in preseason, the Chiefs have reason to feel good about Zombo if he has to play. He had an interception and 27-yard return to set up a field goal. In earlier games, Zombo showed good pass-rush skills and the ability to get pressure on the quarterback.
  • A knee injury that knocked Travis Kelce from the game will force the Chiefs to look for a tight end before the regular season begins. Kansas City already lost Tony Moeaki for an extended period with a shoulder injury.

Chiefs roster predictions, part I

August, 28, 2013
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Not much intrigue left to the preseason for the Kansas City Chiefs. Just trying to stay healthy through Thursday night’s final exhibition game against the Green Bay Packers at Arrowhead Stadium.

That, and the final round of roster cuts that loom afterward. The Chiefs, like all NFL teams, must trim their active roster from 75 to 53 players by Saturday evening.

Here’s my prediction on how their roster will look for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener against the Jaguars in Jacksonville, Fla., at offensive positions and in the kicking game. I’ll post defensive predictions later today.

Quarterback (3): Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray. This might be the only position where there is no intrigue. They are set and in this order on the depth chart.

Running back (4): Jamaal Charles, Anthony Sherman, Knile Davis, Shaun Draughn. The only real mystery here is whether the Chiefs keep Draughn or Cyrus Gray as the third halfback. Draughn has been more productive than Gray. The Chiefs don’t use their fullback enough to keep more than just Sherman.

Wide receiver (6): Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Dexter McCluster, Junior Hemingway, Devon Wylie, A.J. Jenkins. This position has come into focus since the Chiefs traded Jon Baldwin and released Terrance Copper. Bowe and Avery are the starters, McCluster the slot receiver. Hemingway has been steady during camp and the preseason and deserves a spot. Wiley and Jenkins are fast, and coach Andy Reid likes speed. The Chiefs might also keep undrafted rookie Rico Richardson, who caught the touchdown pass in overtime in Pittsburgh last week, but I’m not going to predict that.

Tight end (4): Anthony Fasano, Tony Moeaki, Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris. The shoulder injury to Moeaki might lead the Chiefs to place him on the injured-reserve list. Either way, the Chiefs will need to keep another tight end now, and that’s likely to be Harris. A former basketball player who didn’t play football in college, Harris needs more time to develop, so the Chiefs might be in search of veteran help at this position.

Offensive line (8): Branden Albert, Eric Fisher, Donald Stephenson, Jeff Allen, Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz, Rodney Hudson, Eric Kush. Stephenson is too good to be a backup for long. He and Schwartz will be the first reserves off the bench. Kush is a developmental player.

Specialists (3): Ryan Succop, Dustin Colquitt, Thomas Gafford. They’re the only players still on the roster at their respective positions.
It appears Tyler Bray will be the Kansas City Chiefs' third-string quarterback.

The team cut third-year quarterback Ricky Stanzi. Thus, Bray, an undrafted rookie from Tennessee, will be the No. 3 quarterback behind starter Alex Smith and backup Chase Daniel.

This was the expected outcome. The Chiefs are extremely high on Bray and he was brought in by this new regime. While he has an extremely strong arm, Bray’s game needs to grow from a mental standpoint. The team thinks he can learn from Smith and Daniel.

Because there is such a dearth of quarterback talent, I’d think Stanzi, who was a fifth-round pick in 2011, will get other opportunities.

Below is the list of the Chiefs’ other cuts Sunday:

Player, Pos. Ht. Wt. College

Vince Agnew, CB 5-10 196 Central Michigan

Miguel Chavis, DE 6-5 285 Clemson

Terrance Copper, WR 6-0 207 East Carolina

Ryan Durand, OL 6-5 301 Syracuse

Hutch Eckerson, OL 6-6 310 South Carolina

Otha Foster, III DB 6-0 204 West Alabama

A.J. Hawkins, OL 6-1 310 Mississippi

Rob Lohr, DE 6-4 290 Vanderbilt

Kamaal McIlwain, CB 5-10 175 Newberry College

Jordan Roberts, RB 5-10 222 Charleston (W. Va.)

Tyler Shoemaker, WR 6-1 213 Boise State

Ricky Stanzi, QB 6-4 228 Iowa

Neiko Thorpe, DB 6-2 185 Auburn

Braden Wilson, FB 6-4 256 Kansas State

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