Contemplating a Matt Cassel trade

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
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NEW YORK -- Ever since the Minnesota Vikings signed Josh Freeman on Oct. 7, adding a third quarterback with aspirations of starting to their roster, it seemed like they had an imbalance at the position that could be ripe for correction through a trade. Now, the Vikings might have a market to make that happen.

The St. Louis Rams will be without quarterback Sam Bradford for the rest of the season after the former No. 1 pick tore his anterior cruciate ligament on Sunday. They have him under contract for two more seasons, and appeared to be warming to the idea of a long-term contract extension, as ESPN.com Rams reporter Nick Wagoner writes. The injury throws Bradford's future into uncertainty, but in the meantime, the Rams are 3-4, trying to stay in the NFC playoff picture at a time where they're angling for a new stadium and hoping to remain competitive. At the moment, veteran Kellen Clemens is the only other quarterback on the Rams' roster.

[+] EnlargeMatt Cassel
AP Photo/Jim MoneMatt Cassel seems the most expendable of the Vikings' QBs, and now another team is in need.
Might a return to Missouri be in the cards for Matt Cassel? Let's chew on that idea for a minute.

Assuming Bradford can come back next year, the Rams would need a stop-gap solution for this season that they might not be able to commit to next year. Cassel can opt out of his two-year contract after this season, so a chance to play the rest of the season and refurbish his image might be appealing to the 31-year-old. If Cassel did stay around, he would give the Rams an option if Bradford's rehab took longer than expected. He likely wouldn't cost much more than a late-round pick, but that kind of a deal would allow the Vikings to get some return on one of their quarterbacks, help the Rams get through the season and likely give Cassel a chance to play.

There are, of course, some hurdles that would have to be cleared. The Rams only have $257,000 in cap space left, and would need to clear some room (though they'd have to do that to bring on another quarterback anyway). Cassel would be changing offenses again, after coming from Kansas City to Minnesota this offseason, and trading him would require the Vikings to be confident in both Josh Freeman as the starter for the rest of the season and Christian Ponder as the backup. It was interesting that coach Leslie Frazier named Ponder, not Cassel, the backup quarterback for Monday's game against the New York Giants; Frazier didn't want to get into the reasons behind his decision, but considering Ponder is 25 and under contract for 2014, with a 2015 option looming, the Vikings might want to see if he has a future in the organization. Freeman, who will be a free agent after this season, also needs to be evaluated, to see if he's worth a long-term deal or if the Vikings have to go another direction.

With so many moving pieces at the position, one could make the case the Vikings should keep Cassel, just to give themselves a veteran option. But they can't use three players at the position, and of the three quarterbacks on the roster, Cassel seems the least likely to factor prominently in the team's plans going forward. If the Rams are in the market for a quarterback before next Tuesday's trade deadline, a call to Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman about Cassel might be in order.

Ben Goessling

ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter

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