Matt Cassel surprised a lot of people this week when he opted out of his contract with the Vikings and decided to test free agency. You know that it’s a sad state of affairs when fans are worried that Matt Cassel might leave. This decision leaves Christian Ponder as the ONLY quarterback on the roster. That fact alone strikes fear into the hearts of every Vikings fan. So what does all this really mean? Will Cassel actually leave? What will the Vikings do if he does?
Why did Matt opt out? First, he obviously wants to start and showed last season that he is capable of running an offense. There are a lot of teams that could use an upgrade at QB and there are definitely worse options out there. Jacksonville, Oakland, Cleveland, New York (Jets) and Houston are just a few. Any one of them would love to have a competent signal caller as a stopgap while they groom a young player. So if a team guarantees him a chance to start, I say he jumps at it. Second, we know that teams are willing to overpay for mediocrity at the game’s most important position. Just look at Matt Flynn and Kevin Kolb. By opting out, Cassel has a chance to get a raise whether it comes from Minnesota or another team. It makes sense for him to see what else is out there or at the very least to get the Vikings to pony up some extra cash. And finally, the last reason for opting out is that he may just not want to be here (GASP!). With the way he was treated last season, I wouldn’t blame him. He continually proved that he was the best option on this team and how did they repay him? They signed Josh Freeman and continued to stand behind Ponder. Eventually he took over and looked relatively good, but the damage could have already been done. Last season may have soured him just enough that he wants to play somewhere else.
Just because Cassel is now a free agent doesn’t mean he won’t be on the team next season. The situation here is actually pretty appealing to a quarterback of his stature. You have Adrian Peterson in the backfield, a good (and hopefully improving) offensive line and decent wide receivers. Add in Norv Turner’s offense which fits with Cassel’s skill set and you have a pretty good recipe for success. It is pretty safe to say that unless the Vikings trade up, the quarterback they bring in will not be ready to start from the get go. That puts Cassel in a position to start now. If he plays well, there is no reason he wouldn’t keep the job for a season or two. Matt needs to face that at this point, he is never going to be the answer for a franchise so he might as well be in the best situation that allows him to showcase his skills right now. For that reason, staying in Minnesota looks like the smart choice.
Things will probably work themselves out pretty quickly in free agency as far as this situation is concerned, but if Cassel does go elsewhere, where does that leave the Vikings? It’s obvious that there needs to be a veteran on this team to compete with whomever they draft. And since I don’t see Michael Vick coming to town and Josh McCown simply isn’t the answer, we’re basically out of options. That leaves taking a QB in the first round as the best option, even if it means reaching. This could leave the team with a position battle that includes a rookie and…CHRISTIAN PONDER! That alone may cause Rick Spielman to do everything in his power to make sure Matt Cassel is back for 2014.
Will any of the TOP 10 rookie running backs fit in with the Vikings? (READ)