KANSAS CITY MO - JANUARY 09: Quarterback Matt Cassel #7 of the Kansas City Chiefs signals to a teammate during their game against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2011 AFC wild card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 9 2011 in Kansas City Missouri. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Matt Cassel is the starter but question marks do remain for Brodie Croyle, Tyler Palko, and the just-drafted Ricky Stanzi as to what their roles, if any, will be on the Chiefs in 2011.
Matt Cassel was due a $7.5 million dollar bonus on March 1st, 2011 but due to the lack of a CBA agreement, that check has not yet been signed by the Chiefs brass. But make no mistake about it, he is still going to get that check whenever this league year does finally begin, and he is going to be the Chiefs starting Quarterback in 2011. Cassel's contract is set up to give him base salaries of $4.75 million in 2011, $5.25 in 2012, $7.5 in 2013 and then $9 in 2014. This contract is structured beautifully for a couple of different reasons.
First, the majority of Cassel's money has already been paid so when we are judging the feasibility of signing guys like Tamba Hali or Brandon Flowers to long-term extensions, there is money available because the most expensive player on the football field (QB) is already locked up. Second, if we were to develop our own young Quarterback that was ready to start in say, 2013, the team would have a few different options at what to do with our Quarterbacks at that point.
The question as to who the Chiefs would groom to replace Cassel might have been answered during this past draft. Ricky Stanzi, the Quarterback drafted from the University of Iowa, could be the heir apparent to Matt Cassel down the road someday. It's anyone's guess as to when that day will come, or if will ever come because we are still talking about a Quarterback that has yet to step on a NFL field. But Pioli took Stanzi in the 5th round of the draft because he saw something in him that he believed would make the Chiefs a better team with him on our roster. Here's what Pioli had to say about a trip up to Iowa City last fall when checking out Stanzi (via kcchiefs.com):
"One of the big things we noticed about Ricky, I was up there this year and I saw the kid's work ethic first hand, in terms of film study. I'm not sure how many classes he had but the day that I was in there, he didn't know I was in there, but he happened to be in there over three hours doing film study on his own."
The uncertainty regarding Brodie Croyle as he heads into the 2011 season currently without a contract would lead us to believe that he wouldn't have a spot on the Kansas City Chiefs next season. Stanzi has most likely taken the role as backup Quarterback in 2011 and that leaves Croyle without a spot on the roster heading into next season.
That leads us to the 3rd string Quarterback last year in Tyler Palko, the former Pittsburgh Panther who saw some mop-up duty last season against the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders. He might not be a developmental future-franchise Quarterback in the making but there are some positives to bringing Palko back next season. He is familiar with Haley and the system and could be a guy to help Ricky Stanzi adjust to life in the NFL. Palko and Stanzi would be spending a lot of time together on the sideline so if the Chiefs feel as if Palko could help bring-along a new developmental Quarterback in Ricky Stanzi, he very well could be back again fulfilling the role of 3rd string Quarterback in 2011.
There is still a chance that we could go out and sign a veteran free agent Quarterback whenever Free Agency does begin. But taking Ricky Stanzi in this draft gives us some flexibility on how we want to address the position moving forward.