Last year Mark Brunell and Chase Daniel had Drew Brees' back. This year the Saints' backup quarterback position is wide open. (Source:

New Orleans Saints (Backup) Quarterback Controversy

One of the most unpredictable position battles in this year’s training camp will be for the backup quarterback slot. While it is obvious that Drew Brees will hold down the starting job, Saints fans are wondering who will spend the year holding down the clipboard (and field goals). Let’s take a look at the three most likely candidates.
November 29, 2008: Missouri Quarterback #10 CHASE DANIEL throws a pass during the NCAA Football

1. Chase Daniel (The Front-Runner):

Daniel has been impressive throughout the off-season workouts. Earning praise from both Head Coach Sean Payton and Starting Quarterback/Mentor Drew Brees. Daniel is gunning for the number two spot so lets break down what he brings to the position.

Pros -  

  • System familiarity: Daniel had most of last year to familiarize himself with the Saints’ playbook and personnel. He also developed a strong relationship with Drew Brees and actively seeks out his knowledge and advice.
  • Daniel is an undersized quarterback from east-central Texas who led his high school football team to a 5-A State Title, was overlooked by the University of Texas, signed with a smaller college program and became All-American who led his team to unprecedented success. The Saints’ haven’t had a quarterback with a pedigree like that since…Drew Brees.

Cons -

  • Lack of Experience. Daniel lacks experience at the NFL level. Although he was on the active roster for eight games last year, he never saw any action in the regular season.
  • Daniel might have a a lot in common with number 9 but he is not Drew Brees.


LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 3: Quarterback Sean Canfield #5 of the Oregon State Beavers throws apass against the USC Trojans on November 3, 2007 at the Los Angeles Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

2. Sean Canfield (The Project):

Canfield was drafted by the Saints in the 7th round of this year’s draft. The southpaw out of Oregon State is looked at by many to be a new project for Head Coach Sean Payton.
Canfield possesses the physical tools to be an NFL quarterback but will need time to adjust to the NFL game as he clearly struggled during the recent rookie camp and mini-camp practices.
He continues to work hard and by most accounts has become much more comfortable with the system in recent weeks.


  • When it comes to quarterbacks, Sean Canfield certainly looks the part. He stands at 6’4″ and weighs in at 223lbs.
  • Canfield is intelligent and accurate. Two qualities that are essential to success in the Saints’ system.

Cons -

  • There are questions surrounding Canfield’s arm strength. Most scouts reported that while his arm is accurate he has below average arm strength.
  • While Daniel lacks game experience at the NFL level, Canfield lacks any experience at the NFL level. He also is faced with the daunting task of learning the Saints’ complex system.

LANDOVER, MD - DECEMBER 12: Quarterback Patrick Ramsey #11 of the Washington Redskins passes the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the game at Fed Ex Field on December 12, 2004 in Landover, Maryland. The Eagles defeated the Redskins 17-14. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

3. Patrick Ramsey (The Sleeper) :

Although nothing has been confirmed by the Saints rumor has it that Ramsey has a hand shake deal in place to join the team before training camp starts in late July.
Ramsey, a Tulane graduate, hails from Ruston Louisiana and is currently a free agent.

Pros -

  • Eight years of experience in the NFL with five different teams, has started 24 games in his career.
  • A big arm. Ramsey’s arm-strength has never been questioned at the NFL level.
  • Size. Ramsey is a prototypical quarterback. He stands 6’2″ and weighs 225.

Cons -

  • While Ramsey does have NFL experience he does not have experience with the Saints’ system so he will have to learn quickly to have any real chance at cracking the roster.
  • Ramsey is not overly mobile.While he can move around a little he prefers to stand tall in the pocket and deliver the ball downfield.

One of the many decisions the coaching staff will make this offseason will be who is our new Drew Brees insurance policy.

Right now it appears that Chase Daniel is in the lead. However, I look for the Saints to sign Ramsey in late July and believe that when the season starts Ramsey’s NFL experience will be the difference and the coaches will make him our new number two.

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Tags: Chase Daniel Drew Brees New Orleans Saints Patrick Ramsey Sean Canfield

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  • ezrider

    Seems fairly simple to me…Brees starts, Ramsey is probably back-up and Daniels is probably #3, while Canfield is assigned to the practice squad. Whatever happened with that kid from Syracuse?

    • Jason Harbison

      I agree. The kid from Syracuse is (former Duke Point Guard) Greg Paulus. The Saints have flirted with him through the offseason and even invited him to mini-camp on a tryout basis. But, it remains unlikely that he earns an NFL contract, much less the backup QB spot. The best case scenario for Paulus in 2010 would have him beating out Sean Canfield for a practice squad spot.

  • Mike

    What about Mark Brunell? Could he come back? He hasn’t signed with the jets yet.

    • Amit Bajaj

      It as been highly rumored that the Jets have a handshake agreement in place to sign Brunell on July 22. Same goes for the Saints. They also reportedly have an under the table agreement with Ramsey to sign him on the 22nd of next month.

    • Jason Harbison

      The Jets seem very high on Brunell as a mentor for the Sanchize. While there is an outside chance that the Saints could bring Brunell back for another year I don’t know how much sense it would make for the team. Brunell proved to be largely ineffective in his limited opportunities last year. While he is comfortable with the team and the system I think the Saints would be better off giving the backup spot to a younger player who could possibly stick around for a few years. But let’s face it, if anyone other than Drew Brees takes a significant amount of snaps for the Saints this year it will be bad news.

  • ezrider

    Personally, I’d love to see our back-ups get significant playing time to help ensure their rediness but, more importantly, prolong Brees’ playing life.

    A reliable back-up is essential in todays league…had we lost Brees for the season or even just for a couple more games we very-well may not have made it to the SB.

    If none of the current potentials pan-out, I’d like to see a promising QB picked early in next years draft.

    • Jason Harbison

      I agree with you as long as the significant playing time you are talking about comes in the pre-season games, Week 17, and a few 4th quarters.

      • Amit Bajaj

        amen to that. if Brees is out for a significant amount of time, the Saints will be a BIG TIME trouble.

  • grisgrisman

    Good piece with lots of good info…

    So somebody tell the GGM why Jeff Garcia is not a good option…plenty of skills, plenty of guts and plenty of experience…sure he’s on the way out but could prove to be a dependable backup…or not?????? What about it?

    • TchoupStop

      First of all, really insightful article by the writer. Second, I agree that Jeff Garcia for the Saints, and for almost any team in the NFL would be a viable back up quarterback, even at his age. However, Garcia has proven over the past few years that he’s not content with holding the clipboard, or being a mentor to a young quarterback. He was cut by the Raiders because he out right said he deserved to be the starter over Russell, and his stints in Philly included time periods when McNabb was hurt, so that he could have the opportunity to play. So, I would love for Garcia to back up Brees, but it would only work if Garcia accepted his role as a number two, because we all know he’s not taking the job from Brees any time soon, wait, ever.

    • Amit Bajaj

      The Saints offense, as Payton claims it to be, is a mixture of the west coast scheme and the downfield offenses during the Joe Walsh era. Garcia is a relatively weak-armed quarterback who cannot make all the throws in Payton’s scheme. Ramsey has a powerful arm and has tons of starting experience, so there would be less of a dropoff from Brees to Ramsey than there would be from Brees to Garcia within the confines of this scheme. don’t get me wrong though…there will still be a major dropoff no matter who we bring in.

  • Steven

    I disagree. The article is slightly redundant and tells information that most readers already know. While it is a good refresher and has a really nice format, it provided more description rather than analysis.

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