Photo by: Michael Conroy/AP
Chad Henne is going out on top. The Chiefs backup quarterback posted a picture to social media, celebratory beer in hand, after Kansas City’s 38-35 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII and captioned it with a retirement announcement.
“Calling it a career,” Henne, 37, wrote. “Capping it off with a Bud Light and another ring.” With the Chiefs, Henne won two Super Bowl rings — the same as Hall of Fame members Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, John Elway, and Peyton Manning.
While the Chiefs still have their franchise quarterback in Patrick Mahomes, the backup quarterback spot is up for grabs in 2023. Shane Buechele likely holds the position down this year but he’ll be a free agent following the end of the season and that’s when it’ll be time for the Chiefs to find a new backup for Mahomes. The Chiefs also carried a QB on their practice squad Chris Oladokun. The 25-year-old hasn’t suited up in the NFL yet, but he played quarterback at South Florida, Samford, and South Dakota State in college. He is signed to a futures deal in 2023.
The Chiefs will look to have two other quarterbacks on its roster besides Patrick Mahomes in 2023. Chad Henne was Mahomes’ primary backup and briefly filled in for him in the Divisional Round with an ankle injury.
Buechele coming back is the obvious choice and if they were to go that route, I don’t think it would be a bad idea to consider this option after watching this video on YouTube. GOAT House NFL is a great channel that goes through various NFL content that fans would love. In the video, GOAT House thinks that both Colts quarterback Matt Ryan and the Chiefs should come to an agreement that he can be a potential Chad Henne replacement and backup for Patrick Mahomes for the 2023 season.
With that in mind, here’s why I think Matt Ryan could be the answer to the Chiefs’ backup quarterback situation in 2023.
The Indianapolis Colts took on a huge salary when they acquired Ryan, with a cap hit of $18.7 million in 2022 and $35.2 million next season. The hope was that he was the missing piece who could provide a boost similar to the one Matthew Stafford gave the Los Angeles Rams in 2021.
Well, so much for that. Ryan mentioned that he is open to returning for the 2023 campaign. The 37-year-old is due $12 million next season, but the Colts can save that money by cutting him before March 17th. Ryan has said there is still good football left in him, but the stats show a different story. The veteran signal-caller threw 13 interceptions and had a season-high 15 fumbles last season. It’s tough to imagine him finding a starting spot somewhere after that horrendous season. Although, it’s possible he takes a backup job just to continue playing in the NFL. If Matty Ice was available, the Chiefs should consider this move despite what was said between him and Chris Jones in Week 3.
How he fits with the Chiefs:
Matt Ryan for the Chiefs would be more than your prototypical veteran backup like Henne was. Ryan has played 15 seasons for the Falcons and Colts. He has thrown for 62,792 yards and 381 touchdowns. He was selected to play in 4 Pro Bowls. He has won 1 Offensive Player of the Year award, the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, and 1 MVP award.
Ryan may not be the most athletic quarterback in the NFL at his age, but he’s tough and competitive. He’s willing to hang in the pocket in the face of pressure to deliver a throw. He challenges defenses aggressively, wanting to throw in the deep and intermediate parts of the field. His deep-ball accuracy is one of the strengths of his game. He puts proper touch and allows receivers to run underneath them.
He is comfortable operating out of play action better than Henne did with his back turned to the play, understands his limitations as an athlete his age and picks good spots to try and run for first downs, and has success. When he has time to throw, he puts together drives where he is absolutely dealing.
At 37 years old, he’s mobile enough to play quarterback in the NFL. He isn’t as athletic as Patrick Mahomes but that’s never been who Matt Ryan is, he can move enough to ensure he can deliver an accurate pass in various scenarios and that’s good enough.
Ryan can no longer put enough velocity on his throws to fit the ball into tight windows. The lack of zip on his passes causes throws to be late, and defenders are taking advantage. Ryan is no longer staying calm in the pocket but instead giving up on plays before it is needed and panicking when he still has time to throw but that was also due to bad offensive line play by the Colts as well. The flashes show someone who is capable of doing a lot of things on the field, but his success will be determined on his ability to be more consistent on a play-to-play basis.
If the Chiefs were to go a different route for a backup quarterback in free agency, The 2016 MVP would be high on my list of choices. As a potential backup, Ryan would do well in a rhythm offense similar to what the Chiefs ran with Alex Smith at the helm. Some of the principles of the West Coast offense that he ran with the Falcons would suit Ryan well.
It’s hard to see any team signing Ryan to be their starter, but he’s likely to find work as a backup. With the Chiefs looking to repeat as Super Bowl champions with this roster, getting a capable backup as insurance would be a smart move. Ryan would be a solid backup to turn to if Mahomes ever did miss time. He’s got some strong leadership qualities that would fit in nicely in the Chiefs locker room, which could be huge for Patrick Mahomes’ career progression.
Down the road, if Ryan settles into his new likely career path in the NFL, the Chiefs should consider signing the former MVP to 1-year deal to back up the reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. He would be arguably the best one in the league. If Ryan were ever thrust into action during his potential first stint in Kansas City, he’d be a massive upgrade over Henne, a backup capable of winning games. The Chiefs can improve their roster while Ryan gets another chance to cap off his career with a championship.