Pro Football Focus made a list of the 10 worst moves of the 2016 NFL season and the Philadelphia Eagles were unfortunate enough to make the list at No. 9. As it turns out, PFF really did not like the Eagles' signing of free agent quarterback Chase Daniel. Here's their explanation.
9. Eagles handing Chase Daniel a $21 million contract to be a No. 3 QB
The quarterback market is a wildly overinflated place, but even in that context, the money the Eagles handed Chase Daniel is vaguely absurd. Daniel now has the 24th-highest contract among quarterbacks in terms of average per-season money, and the 26th-highest total contract value at the position. He has a contract worth more than several starters, and he is a No. 3 quarterback on this Eagles’ roster. Even if you assume the deal was handed to him with a view that he will be No. 2 in a year’s time when Sam Bradford departs and Carson Wentz is starting, that means Daniel will receive $7 million this season just as a placeholder, and then be the best-paid backup in football for the next year or two of the deal.
It isn’t for nearly as much money, but this contract is the Ndamukong Suh version of backup quarterback contracts—one that doesn’t set the market, but instead jumps it completely and becomes a stark outlier.
First of all, Daniel isn't the No. 3 quarterback. He's the top backup behind presumed starter Sam Bradford. Daniel has taken all of the second team reps with the Eagles this spring. It seems like the Eagles genuinely want to be patient with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, so Daniel is ahead of him for now.
I get why people don't like the move. It's a lot of money for a backup, sure. It's not totally nonsensical, though. I bet you a team like the Cowboys would have really liked to have Daniel last year when Tony Romo got hurt. Dallas failed to invest in a competent backup and their season went down the drain.
Not to mention Bradford's injury history is so significant that it essentially requires teams to have a strong backup plan. The 29-year-old Daniel has plenty of experience in the league. He's looked competent in his two career starts. And though it isn't very likely at all, there's at least a non-zero chance Daniel could outplay everyone and become the starter.
Then there's the fact Daniel has experience in Doug Pederson's offense. Both Bradford and Wentz have praised Daniel for helping them adjust to the Eagles' new offensive scheme. Daniel's familiarity has also been apparent during practice. He's been the most consistently solid quarterback I've seen in OTA workouts this spring. He doesn't make many mental mistakes. Thanks to his knowledge of the scheme, he's not out there wasting reps for himself or his teammates.
It's also worth noting that the Eagles can easily get out of Daniel's contract in the future. Philadelphia can trade him for a savings of $6 million (with only $2 million in dead money) after the 2016 season. The Eagles can trade or cut him after 2017 for a savings of $7 million.
The likely situation is that Daniel serves as the top backup to Bradford this year. If Bradford gets hurt early in the season, he'll probably be the first guy off the bench. If the season is already a lost cause, however, the Eagles might just throw Wentz into the fire instead of Daniel. Beyond this year, Daniel figures to be the top backup to Wentz.
I certainly don't think the Eagles signing Daniel was one of the best moves this offseason, but I don't think it was one of the worst, either.