The Sports Xchange, Published March 08 2014
Multiple reports say Vikings signed QB Cassel to two-year deal
The veteran quarterback reached agreement on a two-year, $10 million contract to remain with the Vikings, according to multiple reports.
On Feb. 7, Cassel opted out of the second year of his two-year deal with the Vikings, exercising a clause that allowed him to void the contract within five days of the Super Bowl. But the two sides expressed mutual interest in keeping him in Minnesota and worked out an agreement before he became a free agent Tuesday.
Cassel came to Minnesota last season from the Kansas City Chiefs to be a backup to Vikings starter Christian Ponder. But he took over the job in September after Ponder was injured during a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in London.
The 31-year-old Cassel started six games and played in nine last season, leading the Vikings in passing yards with 1,807 and throwing for 11 touchdowns with nine interceptions despite playing in three fewer games than Ponder. Cassel's best performance was a 382-yard passing day in a win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Dec. 15.
The Vikings used Cassel, Ponder and Josh Freeman, acquired during the 2013 season from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as starters last year. The team struggled to a 5-10-1 record but was 3-3 with Cassel as the starter. He also came off the bench to help the Vikings to two other victories.
Under the terms of the previous contract, Cassel was due to make $3.7 million with the Vikings in 2014.
The Vikings how have two quarterbacks under contract for next season with Cassel and Ponder and could add a third through the draft or free agency.
The early days of the latest general manager-coach relationship were eye-opening as much as refreshing.
For the ninth time in franchise history, the Minnesota Vikings have a first-time first-year coach, but Mike Zimmer's experience is standing out at the team's Eden Prairie facility.
In his first days on the job, the well-respected but demanding Zimmer had broken down on film the player traits he wants at every position.
"What type of guys he wants for the system we're going to run? It's a lot different with traits he's looking for with what we're going to run," general manager Rick Spielman said.
The team talked to eight candidates in seven days. In his first 30 days with the franchise, Zimmer has shown himself to be intelligent, polished and anything but gruff or abrasive, as reports indicated when the longtime defensive coordinator was passed over for four previous head-coaching jobs.
"I don't know why all these other teams passed on him, but I'm sure glad they did," Spielman said. "It's the right fit at the right time."
Offensive coordinator Norv Turner got in on the act too. He already established 10 plays designed specifically for scintillating second-year wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson, a 2013 first-round pick the previous coaching staff didn't maximize.
"He is a unique talent," Spielman said. "Not only because of his speed but his movement skills and his size. We traded Percy Harvin away last year and we wanted to get that dynamic back."
The Vikings will focus "heavily on the draft" with Turner piloting the process. His input is viewed as significant by Spielman who was with the Miami Dolphins organization when Turner was with the team and said he considers Turner an expert at the position.
"I saw what Norv did with Jay Feeley in Miami," said Spielman, who also pointed to Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer exceeding expectations with the Cleveland Browns in 2013. "(Turner) has a history of getting quarterbacks to not only play very good, but beyond what maybe you thought."
Spielman said the Vikings will not force drafting a quarterback with the eighth overall pick and said he would consider dealing. That would be nothing new. Minnesota made trades to acquire a second first-round pick each of the past two drafts.
"I would love to move down in the draft, just because of how deep this draft class is," he said. "But if we feel that strongly about a guy at No. 8, we'll take him."