Chase Daniel would prefer to think of his first game with the Chiefs purely in a business sense. As their new backup quarterback, he’s trying to win over a coaching staff and a roster full of teammates, so his approach seems to be a sensible one.
He knows that won’t be completely possible, not with the Chiefs beginning their preseason Friday night against the Saints in New Orleans. Daniel joined the Chiefs from New Orleans, where he was the backup to Drew Brees for four seasons.
Daniel never started a game and threw only nine regular-season passes for the Saints, but he was a member of their Super Bowl winning team in the 2009 season and popular in the locker room and with fans.
Such ties aren’t so quickly forgotten.
“It’s going to be cranking there,’’ Daniel said. “It’s Sean Payton’s first game back as head coach. It’s going to be sold out. They’re going to be there early, they’re going to be loud. I’m looking forward to it.
“I’d like to make it a business trip. I’m going to go down there and enjoy myself a little bit in the pregame. I’m going to say hi to my old friends, my old family that I was with five years. I won a Super Bowl with that family. So there’s a lot there. But come game time, it’s all about business.’’
While with the Saints, Daniel worked his way from the bottom. Undrafted in 2009 out of Missouri, he signed with Washington but was released at the end of training camp.
He joined the Saints as a member of their practice squad that year and soon was bumped up to third quarterback and then the primary backup for Brees. Playing with Brees, he said, advanced his career.
“He taught me how to eat, sleep and live like an NFL quarterback on and off the field,’’ Daniel said. “He taught me how to prepare, the small things it takes to keep your arm in shape during the season, how to read NFL defenses, a lot of things. I could go on and on. Being with him four years, it was like a big brother, little brother relationship. Very competitive but a good relationship.’’
The Saints wanted to retain Daniel in March when his contract expired and he became a free agent. The Chiefs delivered a superior financial bid of three years and $10 million to sign Daniel to be the backup for Alex Smith but Daniel said it was still difficult for him to tell the Saints he would be moving on.
“It was bittersweet for me,’’ he said. “I have so many good memories there and such a great relationship with the coaching staff. I just felt for me it was time to move on, not only personally but as a business decision. It was time to move on to an offense like this one here and to take what Drew has taught me, to bring it here.’’
The Chiefs and Saints weren’t the only teams interested in signing Daniel. The competitive market for Daniel seems unusual given his limited regular season experience and the fact that Daniel, at just 6 feet tall, doesn’t have the prototypical size for an NFL quarterback.
“It didn’t surprise me,’’ Daniel said. “I felt like I can play. I just felt like I’ve never got the chance. Drew just has never been hurt. I’ve proved myself in the preseason games. The Sean Payton offense puts a lot on a quarterback. Teams want guys who can do that, guys that are smart enough to do that. I’ve also shown my skills on the field. I believe they did their research.’’
Daniel got off to a slow start at training camp but improved of late.
“Loves to play the game,’’ Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “He absolutely loves to play the game. I’d have no problem putting him in a game.’’
Daniel has occasionally had passes knocked down at the line of scrimmage and at least some of those throws might have made it to their targets if they had come from the hand of a taller quarterback. The Chiefs, at least, believe Daniel’s size won’t be a problem if he has to play.
“Because of what Russell Wilson did last year, I think there’s more of an acceptance of some of those (short) quarterbacks,’’ said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who came through Chiefs camp last week. “I used to tease him when he came out of college. I called him a guard with a quarterback’s number because he’s so squatty.
“But he can play. He’s just one of those guys that other players rally around. He’s got a ton of energy and he’s smart but most important of all for a guy of his size, he’s instinctive.’’