Under the league’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement, all undrafted NFL rookies must be paid the league minimum salary for their experience: $660,000. But so they can entice rookies to sign with them, teams are still allowed to give them signing bonuses and guarantee portions of their first-year salary.
For the Kansas City Chiefs, no undrafted rookie was guaranteed more than former SMU quarterback Shane Buechele, who was reported to have been promised $175,000 for his first season — including a $15,000 signing bonus.
But speaking to reporters during Sunday’s virtual press conference, Buechele (whose last name is pronounced BOO-shell) appeared just as motivated to be in Kansas City.
“I think this opportunity that the Chiefs gave me is a great one,” he declared. “To be able to learn under Patrick Mahomes — and to be able to learn under Chad Henne as well — those guys are vets and they’ve been playing for a while.”
Buechele also said he’s been very impressed with the team’s quarterbacks coach over the weekend’s rookie minicamp.
“Coach Kafka is a great guy and he’s a great coach,” he remarked. “Just in these three days of camp, I’ve learned a ton in meetings — and [it’s] super great for me to be able to do that. He’s a really good teacher, and it’s been helpful for me to learn from him — as well as Coach Eric Bieniemy and Coach Andy Reid.”
The 23-year-old finished the 2020 season ranked ninth nationally in passing yards (3,095) and passing yards per game (309.5), 10th in total offense (320.0) and 13th in passing touchdowns (23). So he was excited to open the Kansas City playbook, which he said was a lot different than the one he used at SMU.
“Yeah, going through the playbook whenever I first got it was exciting — it was,” he said. “The shots that they take and the aggressive mindset here [is] something that I really appreciate and like — being able to throw the ball downfield and make the guys make plays. They have playmakers here, so it’s just being able to get the ball in their hands and let them do what they do.”
Like his new teammate Mahomes, Buechele also grew up with a father who was a pitcher in major league baseball. From the mid 80s through the mid 90s, Steve Buechele had an 11-year MLB career — most of it with the Texas Rangers, where he still serves as a special assistant for baseball operations. But Shane says that lately, his father has been giving him less advice about his football career.
“He’s kind of taken a seat on that thing, I think,” he said. “He’s kind of let me go through it a little bit — but I’ve seen him from whenever I was young to now. He was a coach in the Rangers organization, so I was around the team a little bit then — and I’ve kind of just seen how he interacts with the players and how he leads a team. I’ve learned a ton from my dad — and I’m super thankful for it.”
And in the Chiefs, Buechele sees a team with the history and culture to succeed.
“I know the tradition here is a winning tradition — especially recently,” he said. “The Chiefs have been successful. So just the opportunity that I have here to be able to battle for a [roster] spot — and to learn from everybody on this team — is a great one. And I’m thankful for it.”