Matt Cassel helped the Vikings to three wins over the 2013 season's final five weeks and he was set to earn $3.7 million while possibly challenging for the starting job in 2014. Instead, he's going to test free agency.
As reported by 1500ESPN.com and seconded by multiple outlets, Cassel plans to exercise his option to void the final season of the two-year contract he signed last March. The initial report indicates that Cassel may re-sign with the Vikings, so the move could be aimed at adding longer-term stability to his NFL future.
There might be some opportunity for him on the open market, though. Cassel performed fairly well after inheriting Minnesota's QB job -- one formerly held by Christian Ponder and, briefly, Josh Freeman. He finished with 1,807 yards passing, 11 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a 60.2 completion percentage. None of those numbers are particularly eye-popping, but they did put him in line to be in the mix for the Vikings next season.
Minnesota holds the No. 8 pick in the upcoming draft and may opt to use that selection on a quarterback, with the Ponder ship having sailed.
Cassel came to the Vikings last offseason as Ponder's backup after melting down as Kansas City's starter. After a strong 2008 season replacing an injured Tom Brady in New England, Cassel signed a six-year, $63 million contract with the Chiefs. He had just one winning season in four tries there and was a combined 4-12 over 2011-12. The 2014 QB free-agent class should be intriguing, if not overwhelmingly talented. Cassel, who will turn 32 in May, could wind up as the cream of the crop over veterans like Michael Vick, Josh McCown and Chad Henne.