Bears' Chase Daniel embraces seldom used, uncertain backup QB life

Clark confident in Daniel replacing Trubisky (0:45)

Ryan Clark is confident that Chase Daniel will keep the Bears competitive while Mitchell Trubisky is injured. (0:45)

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chase Daniel is the answer to a trivia question.

Name the NFL backup quarterback with more than $34 million in career earnings and four regular-season starts.

The 32-year-old quarterback’s impressive earning power boils down to one word: trust.

Losing a starting quarterback -- especially in the middle of the game, as the Chicago Bears did when Mitchell Trubisky went down in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings -- is every coach’s nightmare.

Want your season to go south in a hurry? Have the starting quarterback suffer a serious injury.

But New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, Kansas City Chiefs coach Andy Reid and now Bears coach Matt Nagy have put their trust in Daniel, who despite attempting only 184 regular-season passes in 10 years is viewed as one of the position's most competent reserves.


“That's the beauty of having a guy like Chase: Nothing changes on offense,” Nagy said after Daniel replaced Trubisky (left shoulder injury) in Chicago’s 16-6 victory over Minnesota.

After he was introduced as Bears coach in January 2018, Nagy and the front office prioritized finding a veteran backup to help develop Trubisky, the second overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft.

Daniel was an easy decision. Not only did Nagy and Daniel work together in Kansas City, but also key members of Chicago’s front office spent time with him in New Orleans, where Daniel played for Payton and the Saints from 2010-12 and again in 2017.

The Bears moved swiftly and signed Daniel to a two-year deal that included $7 million in guarantees. Daniel will end up earning a total of $10 million on the Chicago deal before he becomes a free agent next year.

“Chase and I, we go way back, and again, he's like a coach out there, so he understands -- hey, Mitch got hurt,” Nagy said. “... He prepares himself every single day, and it's never different. It's always the same. When this happens, to help his team out.

“So we're very, very lucky to have Chase as our backup quarterback.”

Daniel helped the Bears to an important divisional win over the Vikings. After Trubisky left on the sixth offensive play with what ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports is a dislocated left shoulder and torn labrum that are expected to keep Trubisky out of Week 5’s game against the Raiders, Daniel completed 22 of 30 passes for 195 yards and one touchdown (101.4 quarterback rating).

Last season, Daniel made two emergency starts in place of Trubisky and went 53 of 76 for 515 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

“I've said it before: I've been in the league a long time,” Daniel said Sunday. “... Out there, when you get your opportunities, you never really know when they're going to come as a backup quarterback. My mindset is always just be ready, be ready.

“So I tried to just stay calm and cool, and I've been in this situation before. The two starts last year really helped me just with communication, especially with the offensive line. We're doing a bunch of no-huddle stuff. So it felt good.”

Veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson -- Daniel’s favorite target in Week 4, with seven receptions for 77 yards -- said the transition from Trubisky to Daniel was seamless.

“I didn’t even know he was in at first,” Robinson said. “That’s a guy we have a lot of confidence in. We’ve played some games with him before. He’s been here since I’ve been here. We’ve got a chance to get some reps with him.

“Chase has done this for a while now. He’s no spring chicken to playing football in general. He’s familiar with the offense. He’s like a coach for us when he’s not playing. That gives you a lot of confidence. He knows this offense in and out.”

The one caveat in the Daniel feel-good story is that no one can say for certain how he’d fare over the course of a season. Spot starts are one thing. But career backups are usually career backups for a reason. Daniel’s second start for the Bears last season against the New York Giants did not go well. He threw two interceptions in an overtime loss. There are also valid concerns about how the 6-foot quarterback would handle Nagy’s vertical passing game later in the season, when he'd deal with cold weather and swirling winds in Chicago.

For now, Daniel is likely to make his fifth career start when the Bears travel to London to play the Raiders.

After that, who knows?

The uncertainty is normal for Daniel. After 10 years on the bench, he has grown accustomed to circumstances changing on the fly.

“Life of a backup quarterback, right?”