Surprisingly, the position on the Kansas City Chiefs with the most turnover so far this offseason has been at quarterback. Starting quarterback Patrick Mahomes has his spot solidified atop the depth chart — but it’s the slots behind him that have been shaken up.
Instead of retaining former backup Matt Moore, who helped the Chiefs win two games in Mahomes’ absence during 2019, the team decided to re-sign the other veteran in the room. Soon-to-be 35-year old Chad Henne agreed to a two-year deal to stay in Kansas City and will presumably be the immediate reserve to Mahomes.
If you’ve been following the Chiefs during head coach Andy Reid’s tenure, you’ve probably picked up on the fact that Reid loves to find a young, raw prospect at quarterback and develop him while he is a third string — spending most of his weeks on the practice squad. Former Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray was one of the first. Then it was former Tennessee signal-caller Tyler Bray. Last season, the Chiefs brought in undrafted free agent Kyle Shurmur to fill that role.
On Thursday, the Chiefs made the signing of former XFL quarterback Jordan Ta’amu official — signaling that Shurmur may have a battle ahead of him to retain that third-string job. Ta’amu recognized his fit in Kansas City and made his decision with that in mind.
“I felt like the Chiefs were in my alley just the way the offense is, all the great things I’ve been hearing about coach Reid and his offense and the quarterback room,” Ta’amu stated during his time talking to the media on Thursday. “Me and my agent figured it’d be the best opportunity for me to stick and for me to learn, keep growing. I’m such a young guy, I’m always open to learn and kinda pick the quarterback room’s brain, kinda pick Patrick and Henne’s brain so that’s kind of my deal.”
He went on to speak on the improvements he’s made in the XFL and the aspects of his game he thinks made NFL teams attracted to him.
“I think my ability to do a little bit of everything, see the defense pre-snap read, then throwing, being accurate all the time, making smart decisions, I think that was the main key. Using my feet when I have to, using my legs that’s kind of another weapon, something that defense needs to be worried about and I think I worked on a lot of that in the offseason, right before the XFL.”
Ta’amu has taken a unique path to get to this point. After going undrafted out of the University of Mississippi and spending training camp with the Houston Texans last offseason, Ta’amu found himself playing in the first season of the revitalized XFL with the St. Louis Battlehawks.
“I just figured this would be the best opportunity for me to get game footage, to get live reps and play with a bunch of professional guys,” Ta’amu explained on Thursday. “So yeah it was just a different route. but I knew I could get to the NFL with it so I didn’t lose hope.“
He chose wisely. His performance — which included leading the league in completion percentage and being third in passer rating — apparently caught the eye of coach Reid.
“I sure liked what I saw on tape and on TV from him,” Reid admitted in his media availability on Thursday. “He looks like he’s a talented kid, going to look forward to getting him on board.”
His untraditional way of getting to the NFL included his college career as well. Ta’amu missed out on an opportunity to play an additional season at Ole Miss because he played in four games his freshman year — a rule that has since changed to allow players to redshirt if they play in four or less games during a season.
“Definitely if I had another year I think I would’ve gotten smarter, got bigger, faster, stronger and played another year at Ole Miss,” Ta’amu announced in his media availability. “But I think my story’s unique, it’s different than everybody else’s. Everyone has a different story and a different journey they take, I’m just glad that I have this opportunity with the Chiefs.”
As much as his athleticism and skill set does line up with the Chiefs’ current offense, Ta’amu knows he has a long way to go to match the play of his new Super Bowl MVP teammate.
Pulled two minutes of film on new #Chiefs quarterback Jordan Ta’amu. Dual-threat QB from XFL. Finished third in passing, seventh in rushing. Classic QB style that Reid likes and much closer to Patrick Mahomes’ manner than Chad Henne. You see that here. pic.twitter.com/bhBOWzroMt— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) March 24, 2020
“I don’t think my game can touch his game, he’s just such a great player and I kinda looked up to him and try to play after him,” Ta’amu answered, not taking the bait when asked about comparing his play to Mahomes’. “But he’s totally up there in my charts and I’m always gonna try to be like him, but I don’t think anyone can.”
I don’t think Chiefs fans should ignore this acquisition.
The 22-year old signal-caller has a ton to learn — but he couldn’t have picked a better place to gain knowledge from coaches and teammates. Reid will be excited for the challenge of molding the athletic quarterback — who happens to have a similar physical build as Mahomes — into a legitimate player at his position. I believe that will result in Ta’amu winning the third spot at quarterback over Shurmur in training camp.
Whether he develops into the long-term backup for Mahomes or gets traded away in the future, turning Ta’amu into a sought-after asset will be valuable for the Chiefs.