While it’s a foregone conclusion that Cassel will be the Chiefs’ starting quarterback in 2010 and beyond, what about Brodie Croyle? What if things don’t work out the way they’ve been planned, and the Chiefs at some point actually need the player they drafted and groomed to be a starting quarterback?
This offseason, Croyle will attract interest from teams who have seen his powerful throwing arm and realize he’ll come cheap. There’s already been whispers that Chan Gailey wants Croyle in Buffalo.
Because the free-agent quarterback class isn’t all that great, Croyle could stick out like a sore thumb among the likes of the aging Daunte Culpepper and mediocre Rex Grossman. Of course, the Chiefs will have the chance to match offers from other teams due to Croyle’s status as a restricted free agent, but will they?
Despite the interest from other teams and potential future in Kansas City, Croyle has several drawbacks. Some teams will be turned off by his long history of injury and lack of playing time. He’s only thrown for over 200 yards in a game once in his career and has never topped two touchdown passes in a game.
Croyle is the most notable leftover from the Herm Edwards era. While he’s only started one game since Edwards’ departure, his presence has been felt with the new administration, even if he hasn’t played much. Todd Haley has gone so far as to call Croyle a player “you can’t overlook” who will play “a critical role” in the future.
Of course, Croyle was someone Edwards couldn’t overlook, either. As the Chiefs’ third-round selection in 2006, Croyle became the first quarterback the Chiefs had drafted to start a non-replacement game since Todd Blackledge in 1987. In 2007, Edwards foresaw Croyle as “a good quarterback in this organization—no doubt about it.”
Despite Edwards’ prediction, in recent years it seems as if nobody can hold onto the Chiefs’ starting quarterback position. Croyle’s inability to stay healthy and Cassel’s acquisition continued the recurring theme that the Chiefs still couldn’t find a quarterback of their own without having to sign or trade for a quarterback from another franchise.
So perhaps Croyle hasn’t been necessarily stable or consistent, but he’s worthy of a chance. If he’s healthy, he has shown to be worth something, but it’s been difficult for his entire career with the Chiefs because of a lack of protection from the offensive line. If Cassel falls victim to that same fate, most fans would rather see Croyle take the reins than Matt Gutierrez. Why?
When Cassel came to town, Croyle wasn’t fazed in forfeiting his “franchise quarterback” crown and sticking around as a backup. He gave Cassel a run for his money in training camp, and it paid off when the former Patriot went down with injury. In Week 1 last season, Croyle was solid in completing 16 of 24 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns against the Baltimore Ravens. Even though the Chiefs lost, Croyle kept his team competitive against a tough defense.
It sparked a brief quarterback controversy that never truly materialized, because Croyle wasn’t given a second chance. He only filled in for Cassel against San Diego and Denver in Weeks 12 and 13 when both games were out of reach.
If Haley and the rest of the Chiefs’ organization see anything good in Croyle, what is it? Is it the strong arm that Cassel lacks, or Croyle's relatively cheap contract? Haley and general manager Scott Pioli were fortunate to have quarterbacks in Arizona and New England who rarely missed playing time (Kurt Warner and Tom Brady), but if history doesn’t repeat itself in Kansas City, they might have to give Croyle another shot. Certainly, if anybody knows something about giving a veteran quarterback a second shot at leading a team, it would be Haley, who saw Warner take over for Matt Leinart in 2008.
Come March 5 (or earlier), we’ll have to wait and see how anxious the Chiefs are to re-sign Croyle if in fact he is worthy of “a critical role” in the team’s future. If the Chiefs need anything right now besides offensive linemen, it’s depth at the quarterback position. And no matter how disappointed Chiefs fans may be over his failures, Croyle is likely the best and most affordable quarterback available as insurance in 2010.