Patience. Perseverance. And a salary that doesn’t do much harm to the Kansas City Chiefs’ salary cap.
Those are three things former Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi either has or needs with the Chiefs.
Since every team carries three quarterbacks, Stanzi needn’t have been shaken by Monday’s news that the Chiefs signed free agent Brady Quinn, a 5-year NFL veteran formerly of the Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos. Kansas City declined to tender exclusive rights free agent Tyler Palko, sending him to unrestricted free agency.
Palko was the Chiefs’ No. 2 quarterback in 2011. He started Games 11 through 15 after starter Matt Cassel was lost for the rest of the season with a hand injury that required surgery. Palko was replaced late in the season by Kyle Orton, whom the Chiefs signed after Denver let him go. Orton was a free agent after the season, and hooked on with the Dallas Cowboys.
Through all of the 2011 season, Stanzi was a clipboard guy. Not one big of regular-season action. That’s not unheard of for an NFL rookie quarterback, especially those drafted in the fifth round. He was still drawing from his four-year, $2.25 million salary.
It’s now Year 2, and the Chiefs have a new head coach in Romeo Crennel. The Chiefs never got a whiff of interest from free agent Peyton Manning, so Manning is now a Bronco and Cassel is still K.C.’s No. 1 guy. Who’s No. 2, vet Quinn or still-green Stanzi? That’s what training camp will tell us. The Chiefs were in a pickle when Cassel got hurt last season, and surely want someone a little more reliable than Palko was.
But Quinn didn’t throw a pass in his two years in Denver as he watched the Orton era fade into the Tim Tebow carnival there. Quinn had 10 touchdown passes and 9 interceptions over his three unremarkable seasons in Cleveland. Quinn got a 1-year, $1.5 million deal.
Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli said this in a Kansas City Star story:
“It’s something we were very clear with Brady about and something that’s abundantly clear to Matt and Ricky: The best players that give us the best chance to win on Sunday are going to be the ones to play. I think we have three quarterbacks on our roster that certainly have the potential and the ability to be starting quarterbacks in the NFL. So there is competition here. Brady has started and played in the National Football League. Ricky hasn’t done that yet, but I also think Ricky has some upside.’’
The Chiefs don’t have a Peyton Manning or Eli Manning or any kind of Manning. If Stanzi’s got what it takes to be a top-shelf NFL quarterback he’ll get his chance to show it at some point. If he doesn’t, that will be apparent in time, too.
But had Kansas City signed Manning, Stanzi would have little hope of playing in Year 2. It sure would have been better for the team, though.