The Kansas City Chiefs have secured their backup quarterback to Patrick Mahomes II — at least until otherwise stated.
Matt Derrick of Chiefs Digest reported that “the Chiefs have tendered an offer for QB Shane Buechele, per source. Buechele is an exclusive rights free agent but he will return as expected to Kansas City and right now is No. 2 on the depth chart behind Patrick Mahomes.”
This news was confirmed by several others, including KC Sports Network and USA Today’s Charles Goldman on Chiefs Wire.
Can Shane Buechele Fill the Chiefs’ QB2 Void Left by Chad Henne?
Fans have debated this topic all offseason — can Buechele take over for Chad Henne as the Chiefs’ QB2 or should Kansas City pursue a veteran backup in free agency?
It’s early but as of now, the former SMU collegiate star is the man for the job.
Buechele joined the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent in 2021, and has never appeared in an NFL game. Having said that, he has been learning and developing in head coach Andy Reid’s system for two full offseasons under a tremendous coaching staff — not to mention veteran mentors like Mahomes and Henne.
At SMU, Buechele was somewhat of a dual-threat that threw for nearly 4,000 yards in 2019 and another 3,000-plus in 2020 with three fewer games on the schedule. He scrambled for over 100 yards on the ground both of those campaigns, with 61 total touchdowns and 16 interceptions over that two-year span.
Chris Oladokun is currently the only other quarterback on the roster after Henne retired. The 2022 rookie has a similar track record as Buechele, except with one less year of experience inside Reid’s offense.
The Chiefs held Buechele on the active roster all year in 2022 with this moment in mind. They brought back Oladokun on a reserve/future contract for the same reason. At this time, they will look for one of the two youngsters to step up and supply some confidence behind Mahomes at quarterback.
After all, general manager Brett Veach laid out what the Chiefs are looking for in a backup QB at the 2023 NFL Combine, and he stated candidly that “the cool thing for us is Shane [Buechele] is in that category… [and he and Mahomes] have a good rapport.” Veach did add that KC could still bring in competition in free agency or the draft.
Explaining the ERFA Tender of Chiefs’ Shane Buechele
In case you missed our article on the Chiefs tendering tight end Jody Fortson, here is how an exclusive rights tender works, and why KC is able to use one on Buechele in 2023.
In order to retain an exclusive rights free agent, an NFL franchise must “extend a qualifying offer to the player” according to Pro Football Network. And by definition, a qualifying offer is “a one-year contract at the league minimum salary based on the player’s experience level.”
If they do that, said player will not be allowed to negotiate terms with another organization.
Now, if you’re wondering how Buechele and others became exclusive rights free agents, Pro Football Network explained that too, informing that an ERFA is “a player with just two or fewer accrued seasons and an expired contract.” By comparison, a restricted free agent has played three accrued seasons and an unrestricted free agent has four or more accrued seasons.
PFN writer Dallas Robinson continued: “To accrue a season, a player must have been on a team’s roster for six or more regular-season games during that year. However, the player does not need to be active for games to accrue a season. Players on the injured reserve and the physically unable to perform list also get credit toward an accrued season” — but practice squad members, or players on the non-football injury and commissioner’s exempt lists do not.
Buechele fits this criterion, so by extending him this qualifying offer, the Chiefs have locked him in for the 2023 campaign. Offensive tackle Prince Tega Wanogho is the only exclusive rights free agent remaining on the roster and Veach has until 4 p.m. EST on March 15 to tender him.