Vikings get Cassel to back up Ponder, wooing Jennings

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 15, 2013 - 8:27 AM

Minnesota signed former Chiefs QB Matt Cassel and is negotiating with ex-Packers receiver Greg Jennings.

Christian Ponder will be the Vikings’ starting quarterback heading into the 2013 season. That declaration has been made clear from within the organization all throughout this offseason. And it was reiterated Thursday on a day when the team’s activity in free agency heated up.

But if Ponder is to truly make the big leap forward that the team expects in his third year as a starter, he’s going to need more firepower in his receiving corps. And if the Vikings are to ensure stability behind Ponder, they want to feel confident in his backup.

So in what already had been a hectic week, the Vikings made one bold signing Thursday then headed out for one very important dinner.

Veteran quarterback Matt Cassel agreed to a two-year deal, expected to supplant Joe Webb on the No. 2 line of the Vikings’ depth chart.

The dinner? That was with receiver Greg Jennings, another veteran free agent with a proven track record of being able to enliven a passing attack.

The Vikings’ interest in Jennings on the open market always was dependent on the price point. And while several big-name receivers cashed in this week — Percy Harvin received a six-year, $67 million extension in Seattle and Mike Wallace got $60 million over five seasons from Miami — the Broncos managed to land prolific slot guy Wes Welker for $12 million over two years.

That was a discount purchase that presumably could impact Jennings’ asking price.

The Vikings’ talks with Jennings were expected to stretch into Friday. But you’d presume the ability to lure him to the Twin Cities on Thursday indicates ultra-serious interest and could heighten the franchise’s urgency to hammer out a deal before Jennings departs.

At present, it’s widely presumed to be a two-horse race for Jennings between the Vikings and Green Bay, where the soon-to-be 30-year old receiver caught 425 passes for 6,537 yards and 53 touchdowns over the previous seven seasons.

No, Jennings no longer has youth on his side. And yes, he missed 11 games the past two seasons because of knee and core muscle injuries. But after trading Harvin away, the Vikings have four receivers under contract with combined career totals of 126 catches, 1,651 yards and 10 TDs— the majority of that from Jerome Simpson.

Jennings’ best year: 2008, when he had 80 grabs for 1,292 yards and nine scores.

Translation: The Vikings aren’t exactly in a position of power in the negotiating phase. And while they intend to be practical, General Manager Rick Spielman can ill afford to be overly picky if he’s to make good on the vow to surround Ponder with much more weaponry.

As for Cassel, he might ultimately desire an opportunity to start but won’t be walking into an open competition. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier was clear about the dynamic last month at the NFL combine, endorsing Ponder as his undisputed starter while putting out the team’s “Help Wanted” ad for a backup.

“Our guys need to know who the starting quarterback is and how confident myself and the rest of the coaches are,” Frazier said. “[We need to] kind of create some clarity for our football team as we are giving them direction about where we want to go and what we want to achieve. So it’s important to have that position solidified more so than any position as you are setting your goals for that next season.”

Still, Webb’s struggles during the Vikings’ playoff loss in Green Bay sent the team looking for a better insurance plan.

Ultimately, it’s hard to measure Cassel’s potential. His record as an NFL starter is a middling 29-33. He had a breakout campaign in leading New England to 10 victories in 2008 and threw for 3,116 yards with 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions two years later in Kansas City.

But a slide ensued with Cassel landing on injured reserve because of a broken hand in 2011 and then committing 18 turnovers in a 1-8 start and being replaced by Brady Quinn last fall.

Cassel was cut by the Chiefs on Thursday, a move widely expected after Kansas City traded for Alex Smith last month and then signed Chase Daniel to be his backup earlier this week.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
FIU 53 FINAL
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
UCLA 56 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
UAB 47 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 71
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
LSU 23 FINAL
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
LSU 0
BYU 73 FINAL
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close