After Joe Webb’s dismal showing in their playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Minnesota Vikings clearly needed to add a more suitable backup quarterback behind starter Christian Ponder, who missed the game with an arm injury. Multiple veterans were considered possible options, and the team signed Matt Cassel to a two-year deal after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs soon after free agency started in March.
Cassel first emerged on the NFL radar in 2008 with the New England Patriots, as he started 15 games and threw for over 3,600 yards after Tom Brady suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. He parlayed that success into a lucrative contract from Kansas City, and he helped lead the team to a playoff berth in 2010. But poor play and injuries over the last two seasons led to doubts about Cassel’s future with the Chiefs, and Andy Reid being hired as the new head coach sealed his fate.
The Vikings have remained adamant that Ponder is their starting quarterback, so Cassel is not a serious threat to win the starting job during training camp. But if the third-year signal caller struggles like he did through the middle of last season, there will be plenty of clamoring for a change in the depth chart. At the very least, Cassel can theoretically fill in capably if Ponder is injured or ineffective enough to be replaced.
Cassel can reportedly void the second year of his contract with the Vikings after the season if he chooses, which makes some sense as he attempts to rebuild his value around the league. If an opportunity to play a lot does come this season, Cassel could easily be starting elsewhere in 2014.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.