With Cassel on Board, What's Next for Tyler Thigpen?

Images_mediumThe curious case of Tyler Thigpen rears its head again. A 7th round draft pick in 2007, Thigpen's tale is one of a long-shot turned to hope turned to disappointment. The signing of Matt Cassel by the Kansas City Chiefs all but rules out Thigpen as the Chiefs starting quarterback in 2009.

The debate over the course of Thigpen's ten consecutive week run as the Chiefs signal caller hasn't been whether he'll stick with the team - but rather could the team sign anyone that could beat him out for the job.

Clark Hunt issued his address to Chiefs nation last Thursday and included in it a suggestion that sparked more debate - the Chiefs will sign a quarterback through free agency or the draft.

So, the question came back again - is there a free agent, or a draft pick that could beat Thigpen out for the Chiefs job? The same job that he did a zero-to-hero number on starting in week eight with a near win in the Meadowlands. We've learned that the answer to that question is likely no.

But with the Chiefs trade for Matt Cassel the question doesn't have to be answered anymore. We've got our quarterback and he will likely hopefully sign a 5-6 year deal in the coming months putting to rest the talk that Thigpen will be the starter in 2009.

Since he's been all but ruled out for the starter's job in '09, what's next for Thigpen?

Trade Him

Easier said than done in the NFL but you can bet your bottom dollar that there is always a market for competent quarterbacks.

The problem with Thigpen, though, is that his success came in a specialized offense that not many teams can or will run. His success was predicated on an offensive scheme that was overhauled to work to his strengths while ignoring other important aspects of offenses (like a power running game).

Thigpen's ability in a more traditional offense is still very much up in the air but his success with the Chiefs, albeit in the ArrowSpread, did create a market for him, however limited that may be.

There is some precedent in determining the trade value of a player like Thigpen. Sage Rosenfels is a similar quarterback who has played in limited intervals and performed well enough to warrant the Vikings surrendering a 4th round pick to the Texans for his services.

Rosenfels is turning 31 years old next week, possesses similar erratic tendencies and has seen a similar amount of game time.

That said, Rosenfels value is probably the ceiling for Thigpen so I would put his trade value at a 4th-5th round pick.

Keep Him

Retaining Tyler Thigpen is the best option for the Chiefs at this point.  There are Images_mediumseveral reasons why keeping our third year QB with 11 starts under his belt is a good move.

First, if last year is any indication, the Chiefs will need a backup quarterback with their offensive line. We can be excited about having a new quarterback, but what has changed on the offensive line? Nothing. Add to that the uncertain future of Brian Waters due to his strained relationship with management and we've got a recipe for disaster.

Cassel's size (6'5", 230 lbs) is a significant upgrade over Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard. But it was Tyler Thigpen's mobility that allowed him to stick it out for half a season under center for the Chiefs. Cassel is athletic. He actually played some tight end at USC. But he's no Thigpen when it comes to his wheels.

If the offensive line isn't significantly upgraded, then it's still a major liability for any quarterback.

Second, Thigpen can still be a weapon in the Chiefs offense.  If any coordinator is going to get Thigpen involved in some unconventional way, it's Chan Gailey.

The NFL is a copycat league and right now the hot formation is the wildcat. One of the impediments of it becoming even more popular, is the lack of a passing threat. Thigpen provides that.

Third, why get rid of him when we don't have to? As Pioli said about Larry Johnson, he's under contract so there's no issue. He's due $460,000 in 2009 and $550,000 in 2010.  Pennies compared to other backup quarterbacks of his caliber.

What Will The Chiefs Do?

If I had to speculate, I'd say the Chiefs will retain Thigpen for at least the remainder of his contract. He can be an asset, is a backup at the most important position and is relatively cheap.

Thigpen apparently agrees with this:

"Tyler’s not going to be like some players who are put in this position," [Thigpen's agent Joel] Turner said. "He’s not going to ask to be traded or released or anything like that. He’s going to work as hard as he always has."

Both the agent and player recognize that the starting job has essentially been given to Cassel but that's not going to cause him to pull a Cutler and ask to be traded.

I'm saying Thigpen will be in a Chiefs uniform until at least 2010. What do you think?

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