Despite a public plea of sorts from running back Adrian Peterson on social media, Michael Vick will not be the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings next season. On Friday the team reportedly agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal with Matt Cassel, who spent the 2013 season with the team but exercised his right to void the second year of the two-year deal he signed last offseason.
Cassel was not given an legitimate shot to earn the starting job during training camp last year, but when a reported rib injury sidelined starter Christian Ponder he made his first start in Week 4 against the Pittsburgh Steelers and led the Vikings to a victory in London. He would start the team’s next game against the Carolina Panthers, but the Vikings signed Josh Freeman heading into their bye week and Cassel did not start another game until Week 14 as Ponder returned to full health and the starting job.
Three of the Vikings’ five wins in 2013 came in games Cassel started, and he had 1,807 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions in nine games played (six starts) while completing just over 60 percent of his passes along with a 81.6 passer rating. His numbers were not outstanding, but Cassel was the best quarterback the Vikings had last season and he surely should have started more than six games. The mishandling of the quarterback situation by the Vikings’ previous coaching staff, with some likely input from general manager Rick Spielman, made it a foregone conclusion Cassel would void the second year of his original contract.
New Vikings’ head coach Mike Zimmer expressed desire to have Cassel back, and it can be assumed offensive coordinator Norv Turner also had some say in any effort to bring him back. The new coaching regime appears to have sold Cassel on the opportunity to enter next season as Minnesota’s starting quarterback, while likely stepping aside and serving as the backup to a potential quarterback of the future in 2015.
The Vikings’ offense performed the best with Cassel under center last season, and he appeared to have instant rapport with wide receiver Greg Jennings. Bringing him back will also not alter Minnesota’s plan to draft a quarterback early in May’s draft, and that makes re-signing Cassel by far the best move that could have been made with a largely unimpressive class of quarterbacks hitting the free agent market.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.