Matt Cassel had until Friday of this week to decide whether he should accept or void the option on his contract to play with the Minnesota Vikings in 2014 for $3.7 million. Cassel was likely in line to start next season as the Vikings’ first-string quarterback, but now he has the option to field offers from every other NFL team, a smart move for the aging veteran.
Although Cassel voided his option and is no longer a member of the Vikings, that doesn’t mean he wont be donning the purple and gold next season. Cassel looked to be the Vikings’ best quarterback in 2013 — despite the sporadic playing time — and is likely doing this to garner more money for his services.
The Vikings, along with numerous other teams selecting early in the upcoming draft, are without franchise quarterbacks at the moment and are debating on who will be their starter in 2014. At 31-years-old nobody is going to confuse Cassel for a franchise quarterback, but whatever team wins his services will likely use him for a season or two as they attempt to groom their franchise signal-caller.
As many as four teams drafting before the Vikings will be looking for a new quarterback this offseason. However, many of those teams already have established veterans on their roster who could play next season until the rookie is ready to take over. This includes the Jacksonville Jaguars with Chad Henne, the Houston Texans with Matt Schuab and the Cleveland Browns with Brian Hoyer.
This leaves Cassel choosing primarily between the Vikings and Oakland Raiders. The Raiders flip-flopped between two young quarterbacks last season and could use a veteran in the backfield. But considering they are nowhere near contending for a playoff berth, I find it unlikely they would even attempt to bring in Cassel as it would make more sense to simply move forward with a young quarterback.
As long as Cassel has the intention of starting next season — which he should — coming back to the Vikings would be the best move. Even if the team selects a quarterback in the first-round of the draft it would be in their best interest to begin the season with Cassel in the lineup so they not only have a chance at making the playoffs but also prevent themselves from playing a rookie quarterback before he’s ready.
While we must still wait a few months to find out where Cassel will be playing in 2014, my money is on him returning to the Vikings with a longer and more expensive contract. He threw for 11 touchdowns and 1,807 yards while completing 60 percent of his passes last season, proving he not only deserves the money but that he can still be a formidable starter in the NFL.