Chiefs Reveal Must-Have Trait for Patrick Mahomes’ New QB2

Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Shane Buechele

Getty Kansas City Chiefs quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes II, Chad Henne and Shane Buechele (left to right) chat during 2021 training camp.

There has been a rumor circulating Chiefs Kingdom that Kansas City is looking to bring in competition at the backup quarterback position behind Patrick Mahomes II.

The Athletic’s Nate Taylor confirmed that suspicion during an article on March 3, informing: “According to multiple league sources, the Chiefs are interested in adding a veteran at the position, someone who will compete with [Shane] Buechele and [Chris] Oladokun for the role during training camp and the preseason.”

Taylor added that there’s a “fun debate” occurring among head coach Andy Reid, general manager Brett Veach, offensive coordinator Matt Nagy, and their respective staffs. He explained that this debate “is centered on whether the Chiefs need their next backup quarterback to be a veteran with as much experience as someone like [free agent] Chase Daniel” — who has a similar track record as Chad Henne — or if Mahomes has outgrown that need.

Continuing: “Mahomes, a seven-year veteran, is in the prime of his career and spent the past six seasons receiving additional advice and tips from three veteran quarterbacks with different perspectives in Henne, Matt Moore and Alex Smith.” He may no longer require a mentor based on his growth, however, there is one trait that Veach appears to be targeting.

Chiefs GM Brett Veach Homing in on Football IQ for Backup QB Role

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During his press conference at the 2023 NFL Combine, Veach gave some clear hints at what the organization is looking for in a backup QB — and age has nothing to do with it.

“It’s a tricky [quarterbacks] room because Pat is so smart that you can’t [just] throw anybody in there,” Veach told reporters. “It was really cool to have Chad here because he was experienced and he could teach Pat a lot.”

“But Pat is at that stage now where he’s kind of seen everything,” Veach went on. “To find someone that could mentally challenge Pat in the room along with the offensive coordinator and head coach is challenging.”

Does Kansas City want someone that can step in and perform? Obviously, but a key accompanying trait that they’re looking for is football IQ and intelligence. Not only because Reid runs a complex offense, but because Mahomes has a brilliant NFL mind that works best when stimulated by teammates and coaches.

In the quarterbacks room — which will now be run by the newly promoted David Girardi — Mahomes has already lost Mike Kafka, Henne and Nagy (focus as OC will often be elsewhere) in recent years. He’ll need a new backup that can challenge him mentally, even if they cannot match him physically.

On February 28, Veach did note that he feels Buechele could be that guy, voicing that “the cool thing for us is Shane is in that category… [and] they have a good rapport.” But he also admitted that “I’m sure we’ll bring in competition.”

In the end, the Chiefs GM stated: “I always like filling that [quarterback] room with the highest IQ people possible.” Make no mistake, that’s what KC will be looking for in free agency or the draft.

Backup QB Candidates in Free Agency & the Draft

Taylor listed a few names that could appeal as Mahomes’ next QB2:

  • Teddy Bridgewater.
  • Jacoby Brissett.
  • Marcus Mariota.
  • Andy Dalton.
  • Taylor Heinicke.
  • Gardner Minshew.
  • Carson Wentz.
  • And the aforementioned Chase Daniel.

Mariota has become a hot name in this discussion, but how about a few more options that aren’t listed that could fit this mental prerequisite.

Former NFL MVP Matt Ryan is expected to be cut by the Indianapolis Colts this offseason. Throughout his career, he’s been known as one of the more cerebral signal-callers in the game and if he wants to keep playing, he may not get another shot at a starting job. A close second could be the QB2 role on a Super Bowl contender like the Chiefs.

Another decorated candidate could be Joe Flacco, who won a Super Bowl MVP with the Baltimore Ravens. Flacco has spent the past couple of years with the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets, and has displayed a willingness to return in 2023. He’s an intelligent backup that can keep up with Mahomes in terms of football IQ, and the unrestricted free agent can also still sling it when he needs to.

One final younger option could be Stetson Bennett out of Georgia. The two-time National Champion and Heisman Trophy finalist in 2022 is a leader and a winner. He’s also wise for a prospect. Despite his college accomplishments, Bennett is not expected to be drafted high because of his age (26 in October), size, expected ceiling, and athleticism — or lack thereof.

Having said that, he could make for the perfect long-term backup to Mahomes.

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