Monday, February 3, 2014
Cassel is Vikings' first order of business
By Ben Goessling
MINNEAPOLIS -- Now that Super Bowl XLVIII is over and the Seattle Seahawks are basking in one of the most lopsided victories in the game's history, the rest of the NFL is preparing to chase a Super Bowl with warmer weather and fewer Roman numerals.
Super Bowl XLIX will be played in Glendale, Ariz., next February, and the Minnesota Vikings open as 100 to 1 shots to get there, according to the odds released by the Las Vegas Hotel. Only the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders have worse odds, but if you're looking for a chance to get rich and you're willing to gamble on the Vikings 'ability to engineer a quick turnaround this offseason, this might be your chance.
The first order of business for the Vikings is the 2014 option on quarterback Matt Cassel's contract. That decision will happen in two stages over the next six weeks or so, but the first deadline comes this week. Cassel can void his 2014 contract by Friday. If he doesn't, the Vikings have until the seventh day of the league year in March to decide whether to cut him or pay him a $500,000 roster bonus. He would have a $3.15 million base salary and a $50,000 workout bonus, bringing his total compensation (without incentives) to the same $3.7 million figure he made in 2013.
The guess here is that Cassel will stick with the Vikings in 2014, given the fact he might have a chance to at least begin the year as the starting quarterback. He's essentially getting paid like a backup quarterback, but there might not be many situations that would give him a better chance to start next season than the Vikings, considering how many teams either are still tethered to young quarterbacks or might draft one even higher than the Vikings could in May. Cassel seems like a good fit for Norv Turner's offense, given how well he fared when throwing downfield last season (he had a 97.7 QBR on passes that traveled 20 yards or more, according to ESPN Stats & Information), and he might choose to stay with a team that looks like it could have some weapons, particularly if Cordarrelle Patterson continues to develop.
But if Cassel does opt out of his deal, the Vikings will have even more uncertainty at the quarterback position. Christian Ponder is still under contract, but it seems likely the Vikings would try to get what they can for him in a trade. Cassel certainly isn't the long-term answer at QB, but he's the best of what the Vikings have now as they head into a draft where they're unlikely to get a crack at the top two or three quarterbacks in the class.
There's much to be determined with the Vikings' quarterback situation, but the first domino worth watching is due to fall by Friday.