The NFL Combine is finally here and with it comes a flurry of new rumors and reports. From the Eagles interest in Brandin Cooks to a more meticulous free agency approach, outlined by Howie Roseman, there has been plenty to talk about over the last 24 hours. One of the more intriguing stories however..has been surrounding the Eagles backup quarterback, Chase Daniel.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the 30-year old veteran has been accumulating a fair amount of interest as of late:
One backup QB drawing interest on the trade market: #Eagles QB Chase Daniel. As teams try to improve there, Daniel is one to watch.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 2, 2017
With teams looking to add a veteran presence to their quarterback position, or even find a short-term solution as a starter..Daniel does seem to be an intriguing option and from the Eagles perspective, the huge factor here is cap space. The former Kansas City Chief reunited with Doug Pederson last offseason after signing a three-year deal worth $21 million. $12 million of that is guaranteed and has widely been considered extortionate money for a backup quarterback. Considering that he was signed when Sam Bradford was still the starter and was then pushed aside in favor of Wentz once Bradford was traded to the Vikings, many have struggled to justify that money. But Daniel is absolutely integral to the growth of Carson Wentz.
Playing quarterback isn’t like a real life version of Madden. It doesn’t begin and end with physical traits or athletic attributes. It’s been well documented that the work ethic of franchise quarterback Carson Wentz is unrelenting. But what isn’t so well documented, is the man who helps him keep up such a heavy schedule.
In a great article by Josh Paunil after Carson’s first win in the NFL, Chase Daniel spoke about the process of adapting to the NFL and just how much of a factor his previous experience with Drew Brees and Alex Smith has really played. While many applaud the strong “first-in, last-out” mentality that Wentz demonstrates, it’s Chase Daniel who helps him maintain that on a daily basis. From scheduling his visits to the facility at 5:30AM, to the late finishes after practice has finished..Daniel proved instrumental during the rookie season of Carson Wentz.
“It all goes back to my time in this league. I know a lot of people want to say I haven’t played in a lot of games, which is true, I’ve played and started two games, but I’ve been around a future first-ballot Hall of Famer in Drew Brees,” Daniel said. “I backed him up for four years [and] I backed up Alex Smith for three years, so I sort of know what [starting] takes and entails over an in-season schedule”
“That’s what I sort of brought to Carson last week is, ‘Hey, let’s get in here early. Let’s get a head start on this film. This is what we’ve done in the past. This is what Drew has done in the past.’”
The biggest area where Daniel helps Carson Wentz isn’t on the field. It’s behind the scenes..preparing. When analysts reference the jump to the NFL from College, it’s easy to assume they mean just the flow of the game. But there is so much more to it than that. Something Daniel helped Carson Wentz through during his rookie year.
“There’s a difference in preparing in the college level and preparing at the NFL level. I think you have to take it up a notch. Carson was already a film nerd,” Daniel said. “You have it structured in a way where you know exactly what you’re doing at 6 a.m. on a Thursday. You know exactly what you’re doing at 6 p.m. on a Thursday.”
Coming into the season, Daniel had only thrown 68 passes in the NFL..scoring one touchdown and committing one turnover in 11 career games. Those aren’t exactly inspiring numbers for a quarterback who was regarded by most as an insurance policy. But the coaching staff knew that Daniel provided value where others didn’t. In fact, Alex Smith himself was very open about how much of a blow losing Chase Daniel to the Eagles was:
“..But I do think it’s very, very important that that comes back, that your backup is watching film with you. Because as soon as I’m stepping off the field here, you know, I’m asking, ‘Hey, what did you guys see on this, what did you guys see on that?’ I’m constantly bouncing things off of those guys, and it can’t always be coaches (helping me).”
“For me, it’s nice to have the perspective of another guy, a guy that’s played quarterback and knows what it’s like,” Smith said. “It’s crucial sometimes to have that, and I really did have it with Chase the last few years. He’s a guy whose opinion I really trusted and think a lot of.”
One of Daniel’s most impressive traits, according to Smith, was identifying blitzes and picking up protections. In Pederson’s Offense, those are things that are vital if the quarterback is to be successful. From audibles to picking up the MIKE linebacker, it didn’t take long for Carson Wentz to really take the reins of the Offense for his own and build confidence with his center. But as Smith recited to the Kansas City Star, Chase Daniel may have had a role there too..
“Man, he’d beat me in on Mondays and Tuesdays and he’d already have a jump on the pressures the opponent likes,” Smith said. “He’d say, ‘You see this leverage right here? I think we’ve got a tell.’ Or, ‘Hey, they only play this with corners off. This is your alert right here.’ Weekly little tips like that. He was really on it, man. And it was every single week.”
The Eagles have one of the most quarterback friendly coaching structures in the NFL. In fact, the entire offensive staff was built with the development of a franchise quarterback in mind. From Doug Pederson to Offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, all three have had NFL playing experience and were signed with growth of a long-term singal caller in mind.
It’s also something that sparked Daniel to reunite with his former Offensive coordinator and push aside some competitive offers from other teams. During his opening press conference at the NovaCare Complex, the former University of Missouri quarterback was quick to speak highly of the Eagles structure:
“It’s not every day that you get to play in an offense under Doug Pederson, coach Frank (Reich) and coach John (DeFillipo), that have all played in the NFL and have all called plays. That quarterback pedigree really excited me about what’s going on here in Philadelphia.”
If there is one sentiment that has been echoed from the moment that Doug Pederson walked into the building for the first time, to the most recent rumors and reports..it’s that building around Carson Wentz is essential. From coaches to players, building around the young quarterback is the Eagles largest and most important task. Yes, Chase Daniel may accumulate a fair amount of cap space..but while Wentz is still in the early years of his rookie deal, it’s affordable. The team have other avenues of opening up funds to acquire free agents and disrupting what has become a very impressive area of the team just doesn’t make sense.
The team also don’t currently have a third quarterback on the roster, after parting ways with previous QB3, Aaron Murray. SO trading Daniel would mean that regardless of what happens, the Eagles would simply HAVE to add a backup quarterback, be that through the draft or free agency. The entire reasoning behind the trade interest is that the free agency market is hardly littered with talent.
Trading Chase Daniel may make sense from a financial perspective, but with the Titans agreeing to terms with veteran QB Matt Cassel, the veteran market is drying up. There is no guarantee that Wentz would have a backup who could also mentor him and help his development in the way that Daniel can and currently does. While fans may not see a direct return for the $21 million contract, one man who will is Carson Wentz..and it just so happens that Carson Wentz is both the present and future of the Eagles franchise.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports