You’d think Chase Daniel has seen it all.
11 seasons in the NFL spent mostly as a backup, Daniel has become a student of the game. Eager to absorb every little thing that he can find, because, in his words, “I’m a big football fan.”
But Daniel has been fortunate enough to be in familiar offenses for most of his career. After a training camp stint with Washington his rookie year, he spent the next four years in New Orleans’ learning Sean Payton’s high-flying Saints offense. Since then, he’s been under the Andy Reid coaching tree, spending three years under Reid himself in Kansas City, then moving to the Eagles for a year to play under Reid’s former quarterback Doug Pederson. Then in the past two years, he made the seamless transition to Matt Nagy’s Chicago Bears offense.
Throughout that time, Daniel has had a wildly successful backup career. Though he’s only started five career games—three of which came in the past two seasons—his career earnings will now push over $40 million for his career after signing a three-year, $13.05 million contract with the Lions.
But it’s not purely the money that brought Daniel to Detroit, it was the draw of a new, fascinating offense. Having watched film on the Lions last year as part of the Bears scouting process, Daniel was immediately drawn in to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s aggressive scheme.
“They were slingin’ it, man,” Daniel said via conference call on Monday. “Matt was firing on all cylinders, and obviously the back situation happened, really, before our game and it was sad to see, but one of the reasons I came to Detroit was to work with Bev.”
Prior to Matthew Stafford’s Week 9 season-ending injury, the Lions passing offense ranked fifth in DVOA, had the most passing plays of 20+ yards, while Stafford himself had the fifth-best passer rating in the NFL.
That’s kind of offensive output would draw the attention of any quarterback, but Daniel knows he’s not in Detroit to take over behind center. That’s Stafford’s job.
“It’s not like I’m coming in to be a mentor,” Daniel said. “Matthew’s one of the best players in the game. So, it’s going to be fun to work side-by-side with him, and really just sort of pick his brain. We’ve already talked quite a bit about the offense in general.”
That immediate closeness isn’t just happenstance. The two actually have quite a history together. Both growing up in the Texas sports scene, Daniel grew to know Stafford—a household name in Dallas—through his baseball skills.
Newly signed @Lions QB @ChaseDaniel goes way back with QB Matthew Stafford.— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) March 23, 2020
Their high schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metropolitan Area were only 27 miles apart.
In 2008, the QBs served as counselors at the @Elite11 camp, the nation's premier competition for high school QBs. pic.twitter.com/rGQsjBLekk
“(He’s) one of the better stars to come out of—if not the best star—to come out of Highland Park High School, and my family lived there, in Highland Park, for the last eight years before we moved out to California,” Daniel said. “So we’re very familiar with Matt and that area.”
Now the two will be working together to round out the Lions quarterback depth chart, along with youngster David Blough. Getting acclimated to the new offense may take some extra time—especially with normal offseason activities looking less and less likely due to COVID-19—but Daniel doesn’t appear to be worried.
“I don’t necessarily think I’ll have an issue, because I’ve already asked for the playbook.”