Every year for the little bit of time that we normally have between the draft and the beginning of offseason workouts, the talk of the rookies roles tend to get exaggerated a little bit. The talk is fueled by the hope that every player that was just drafted is going to become the next member of the "Ring of Honor".
It's not until the offseason activities begin that we learn about how practices are going for the rookies and how they're shaping up against the other guys on the roster. Not every draft can be like the Chiefs draft in 2010. It'd be nice if we could always get the contributions that Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas, Jon Asamoah, Tony Moeaki and Kendrick Lewis brought to our team last season as rookies. It's just not the way it normally works. There is no doubt that the Chiefs added a whole lot of talent to this roster with the 2011 draft, but developing these guys into solid NFL players will create controversies and tough decisions for the Chiefs in the future. The job never gets easier and that's a good thing.
The Kansas City Chiefs find themselves in a pretty good situation following the 2011 draft. They have young, talented players all over the field on both sides of the ball. They have a solid core of players that give the franchise some stability moving forward. When you start to look around the league and notice how the teams that find themselves in contention every year go about their business you'll find similarities between them. They all seem to develop their own talent and they all have to make tough decisions on good players.
The Philadelphia Eagles find themselves in this situation right now. They have Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick at quarterback. The Green Bay Packers had a similar decision a few years ago with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. To a lesser extent the San Diego Chargers had a situation with Philip Rivers and Charlie Whitehurst. Each of these teams had to make a decision regarding one of their quarterbacks and the trade market out there for that particular player. Kolb will most likely get traded whenever it's allowed with the new CBA agreement, Favre was shipped off to the New York Jets, and Whitehurst was sent to the Seattle Seahawks. These teams benefitted from developing the most important and most valuable trading piece that a team can have: quarterback.
The Chiefs are hoping to have a similar situation with Ricky Stanzi and Matt Cassel in the future. There are four different scenarios that could play themselves out over the next couple of years for these two quarterbacks.
Over the next two years Cassel could continue to develop and establish himself as a top NFL quarterback, in this scenario Cassel is the quarterback moving forward with this team. For this particular scenario we're going to say that Stanzi is not ready to step in and start for the Chiefs, and doesn't have any trade value. As a fifth round pick, Stanzi doesn't have the pressure to play right away and if the worst case scenario is that he's only a backup quarterback for this team at that time, that's not a terrible situation for the Chiefs. They have an improved Cassel that is ready to lead them deep into the playoffs.
Cassel regresses or does not develop any further as a starting quarterback over the next two seasons. This would make for a very rough couple of years for the Chiefs organization because fans will have been asking for Stanzi to get in there and get his shot at being the starter if Cassel has struggled. We'll say Stanzi has developed and is ready to step in there and take over for this team. In this situation there could hopefully still be some kind of trade value for Cassel if they are ready to move on with Stanzi. Cassel would have had 5 years experience starting in the NFL and there are always teams that are looking for experienced starters to compete with their young guys.
This is the worst case scenario as Cassel and Stanzi both struggle to develop. If the Chiefs aren't convinced that they can win with Cassel and he's due $7.5 million in 2013, and then $9 million in 2014, it's not a great situation if Stanzi hasn't convinced them that he should get a chance to be the starter. Not only would this be the worst case scenario it could also be the most interesting. With the rest of the team developing, the Chiefs should be ready to compete with the class of the AFC at this point and if they are a quarterback away from being serious contenders, they could make a move for a free agent quarterback if another team succeeded in developing their young guy.
This is the "Why a quarterback controversy is good for this team" situation. If both quarterbacks are ready to lead the Chiefs deep into the playoffs, one of them is going to get traded and the other will have to prove that keeping him was the right decision. For Cassel, that would make another instance of people not believing he would be the guy, and having to prove them all wrong again. For Stanzi, it would mean establishing himself as a starting quarterback in this league. From a financial standpoint, it would be better if Stanzi is the guy for the future because he'll still be playing under a fifth-round rookie-contract, while Cassel's contract escalates each year after 2011.
The trade value for a team that has two franchise-type quarterbacks is high every year. If we could turn a first-round pick or even a second-round pick for either of these guys before the 2013 season, it would a great thing for the team moving forward. It would also be the most contentious situation because there would be groups of fans that would want each of these quarterbacks to be the guy to lead us towards a Super Bowl. This is why good teams have to make good, tough decisions. The better the Chiefs get in the future, the tougher their decisions become. If the development of the last two years is any indication, this team may find themselves in this situation sooner rather than later with more positions than just quarterback.