The dust is settling a little on the whirlwind offseason, so far, for the Vikings. They fired their coach. They hired their head coach. They announced their staff. Now they are all trying to get on the same page and get ready for the draft.

Maybe all of that activity has stopped us from thinking too seriously about the roster. It's when we take a deeper look that we really realize: the Vikings need Matt Cassel, and they need him badly.

Here's all you need to know about the crop of free agent quarterbacks this offseason: four of the seven, as ranked by Yahoo, have been employed at one time by the Vikings (Cassel, Josh Freeman, Shaun Hill and Tarvaris Jackson). The top two are Michael Vick and Josh McCown. Vick figures to aim for one more good-sized contract as he will turn 34 before the season starts. McCown, too, will be a hot commodity after putting up big numbers with the Bears.

Cassel is next. Then it's Freeman. No, really. Then it's Hill. Then Chad Henne. Then T-Jack.

That's what's out there. The perfect fit, honestly, is Cassel. He is fairly accurate when it comes to downfield passing, which figures to be in play more now with Norv Turner as the offensive coordinator. He has the capability of starting and holding down the fort while the Vikings presumably groom a QB of the future, but he didn't show the ego in 2013 that would make him a problem if he was beaten out for the job.

It comes down to this: For many reasons, the Vikings simply cannot go into 2014 with Christian Ponder in the mix, and for now he's the only QB on the roster. They need a capable stop-gap who would give a rookie head coach an easier transition while also putting less pressure on the team to draft a QB in the first round (since a pick in a later round might figure to be a little more of a project).

Cassel is the guy. When free agency starts March 11, we'll find out if he opted out of his deal so he could simply get more money here or if the battle scars of 2013 combined with a nice offer somewhere else will leave Minnesota in a bind.

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