If you were expecting it to be Josh Freeman replacing the injured Christian Ponder (concussion) at QB against the Ravens this Sunday, you may be surprised to see "Old Man" Cassel at the helm for the Vikes. Fate moreless derailed his career last season in a game involving the Ravens—and now it offers Cassel a chance to resurrect his career at the expense of the Ravens.
Cassel, as you may recall, had that one phenomenal year (in what seems a long time ago) as a Patriot in relief of the injured Tom Brady. He then parlayed that great statistical season into a sweet 6-year deal with the Chiefs…had a rough first year then a great second year in Kansas City…and then kinda gradually faded away. His Waterloo moment was getting knocked out (literally) in a game against the Ravens last year.
Darin Gannt of Pro Football Talk.com broke the news Wednesday afternoon:
"The weekly quarterback question has been answered in Minnesota, and it’s the old guy again. Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he’d be starting this week against the Ravens."
"Cassel was perfectly acceptable in Sunday’s win against the Bears, and has played in all three of their wins this season. The fact that there are only three wins makes the question of a week-to-week starter kind of a moot one, since it ought to be somebody else next year."
"But it’s becoming clear they’re not comfortable running Josh Freeman out there again, which only adds to the importance of finding a new QB this offseason."
Maybe the Joe Flacco haters among Ravens fans out there should thank their lucky stars they have such a stable quarterback situation in Baltimore. Look at the circus Minnesota fans have endured at the position!
I love how everyone thinks Matt Cassel is ancient…he's only 31 years old!
He played college football for USC, but didn't start for them, and was drafted as a project by the New England Patriots in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft. The guys at QB ahead of Cassel on that USC team were Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart.
He became the Patriots' starting quarterback after Week 1 of the 2008 season after then reigning NFL MVP Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury. According to ESPN research, he is the only known quarterback in NFL history to start an NFL game at quarterback without ever starting at quarterback in college. In February 2009, the Patriots used their franchise tag on Cassel, extending him a one-year contract worth over $14 million, the largest one-year contract for an offensive player in NFL history. Later that offseason, the Patriots made a trade which sent Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs, who signed him to a 6 year, $62.7 million contract in July 2009. In 2010, Cassel led the Chiefs to their first divisional championship in seven years, and earned a Pro Bowl berth in the process.
In 2011, Cassel had led the Chiefs to a 4–4 record. During the first two games, Cassel only threw one touchdown. Those first two games were blowout losses. In the second game, Cassel threw three interceptions. Cassel finally had his first good game, throwing two touchdowns in a 17–20 loss against the Chargers. He led the Chiefs to their first win against the Vikings, where he threw for 260 yards and one touchdown. The next week, he led the Chiefs to a comeback victory against the Colts. The Colts jumped to a 17–0 lead, but Cassel threw four touchdowns and 257 yards with no interceptions to lead the Chiefs to a 28–24 win. After the game, Cassel had a 138.9 quarterback rating. In week 8, Cassel threw one touchdown and two interceptions. Cassel injured his hand in a week 10 game vs. the Denver Broncos. He was replaced by Tyler Palko, and had surgery on the injured hand on November 14. On November 21, he was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.
In Week 1 of the 2012 season, Cassel had a tremendous first half against the Atlanta Falcons, but threw two interceptions in the second half. His final stats were two interceptions, one touchdown, one rushing touchdown, and a 72.5 quarterback rating. The final score resulted in a Chiefs loss, 24-40. Then the Chiefs had to rely on a 91-yard run by Jamaal Charles, a defensive safety, and four field goals to gain their first win against the New Orleans Saints, as even with excellent field position throughout the second half, Cassel could not lead the team to the endzon— he threw one interception and no touchdowns. The final score of that game was a 27-24 overtime win for the Chiefs. The next week, Cassel struggled and threw two touchdowns, but three interceptions in a 20-37 Chiefs loss against the Chargers. After the game Cassel's starting job appeared to be in jeopardy, but coach Romeo Crennel said Cassel would start the next game against the Ravens. On October 7, 2012 against the Baltimore Ravens, Cassel left the game with a head injury. Earlier in the day, fans had called for him to be benched and when he exited the game, several hundred fans were cheering.
At the time of Cassel's injury at the hands of the Ravens, he had accumulated nine interceptions and five fumbles through the first five games of the season. This mark was more than any other team in the NFL, except the Philadelphia Eagles, who also had fourteen turnovers in their first five games of the 2012 season. On October 22, 2012, Crennel named Brady Quinn as the starting quarterback for the Chiefs following their bye week. Cassel was deemed healthy enough to play, but still given the backup role.
That was pretty much it for Cassel's career, it looked like. On March 14, 2013, the Chiefs released Cassel.
But on the same day he was released, Cassel signed with the Minnesota Vikings. On September 27, it was announced that Cassel would get his first start as a Viking in Week 4 vs the Pittsburgh Steelers, due to a rib injury to starting quarterback Christian Ponder. The Vikings won the game by a score of 34 to 27.
He sat down again after Josh Freeman was brought into the picture, then Ponder became healthy again, now Ponder gets hurt again,and Cassel gets what may be his last-ever shot at 3 starts in a row if he doesn't have a great game against the Ravens.
Cassel for all the publicity and big money surrounding his career is only 26-29 lifetime as a starter in the NFL. He's thrown 85 career TD's against 59 INT's.
In Minnesota's three victories in 2013, Cassel has started one and finished the other two. So it seems fitting in a way, or maybe cruelly ironic, that his last chance to reestablish himself as a starting QB in the NFL comes down to a Sunday in Baltimore—in the home stadium of the very team that sent his career into a spiral of doom last October.