It's interesting how the biggest position of need heading into the 2008 season now may be the biggest position of depth heading into the 2009 season. The Kansas City Chiefs certainly don't have any definitive answers at the QB position but there are two players to feel pretty good about it: Matt Cassel and Tyler Thigpen.
With Cassel the unofficially the starter heading into '09, the Chiefs might have the best back up quarterback in the NFL when factors like age and money are considered. Clark Judge of CBS Sports (via stagsdp in the FanShots) said Thigpen would be a fine starter for the Chiefs.
Had the Chiefs not gone out and signed Cassel, I'd be fine with Thigpen as the club's starter. I don't know how much you win with him, but I do know he can make things happen.
The oft pointed out stat of Thigpen's career thus far, one win, doen't matter to Judge. As he points out, Tony Gonzalez said it would be a "disgrace" if Thigpen wasn't given a chance to be the team's starter.
I don't care that he won one game. Eli Manning won one game his first year as a starter, too. Thigpen threw 161 passes without an interception and played well enough to win three or four more.
So, let's look at the backup quarterbacks to see how Thigpen stacks up. The candidates for best backup quarterback in the NFL listed after the jump have a few downsides that Thigpen doesn't possess including age (Garcia, Kitna) and money due to them (Leinart).
- Jeff Garcia (Raiders)
- Jon Kitna (Cowboys)
- Derek Anderson (Browns)
- Sage Rosenfels (Vikings)
- Matt Leinart (Cardinals)
- Charlie Batch (Steelers)
- Rex Grossman (Texans)
- Todd Collins (Redskins)
From this list, the only other backup that I might pick over Thigpen is Matt Leinart. They're both young with some experience (11 starts for Thigpen, 16 starts for Leinart). The difference? Money.
The money paid out to Thigpen in his rookie contract is minimal, at best. Excluding a minuscule signing bonus, he's played for $285,000 (2007) and $370,000 (2008). He's signed on for two more years at base salaries of $460,000 (2009) and $550,000 (2010).
The money being paid out to Leinart is much, much different. In 2007, as part of a six year, $50,8 million contract, he received a $2.76 million base salary and in 2008 a $735,000 base salary. Those numbers will jump up to $1.11 million (2009) and $2.485 million (2010). Not to mention the $7.36 million base salary in 2011.
Thigpen's total deal is worth $1.665 million over four years. Worst case scenario? He doesn't see the field in 2009 and still retains a fairly high trade value because of the position he plays. We're sitting in a very, very good spot with Thigpen. Despite not winning games in 2008, we're sitting in a very good spot with Tyler Thigpen.