Vikings QB Cassel expected to opt out of contract

The veteran quarterback has until Friday to opt out of the second year of his two-year contract.

The Vikings and Matt Cassel both benefited from a mutually friendly contract.

Cassel, who signed a two-year, $7.4 million deal before last season to back up Christian Ponder at quarterback, ended up being the team’s starter by the end of a 5-10-1 season.

Now Cassel, according to several reports, intends to exercise an option to nullify the second year of the deal, which would make the 31-year-old a free agent and position him to sign a longer-term contract.

Messages left Wednesday with Cassel’s agent seeking comment were not returned. Cassel has until Friday to officially opt out of his current deal.

Cassel’s contract for the 2014 season called for a $500,000 roster bonus if he is still with the team on March 18 as part of a $3.7 million package for the season.

Instead, Cassel could be the most attractive member of a quarterback free-agent class that, for now, is headlined by Michael Vick, Josh McCown, Kellen Clemens and Josh Freeman, who spent the final 12 games of the season with the Vikings. Free agency begins March 11.

Cassel would look for, and likely get, a multiyear deal for more money; and the Vikings could be interested in re-signing him. Ponder, who has one year remaining on his rookie contract, could be the only quarterback on their roster if both Cassel and Freeman enter free agency. Freeman’s contact expires March 9.

Cassel last spoke with reporters after the Vikings’ season-ending 14-13 victory over the Lions in the last game at the Metrodome on Dec. 29, saying: “I love playing for the Vikings. The fan base here is absolutely amazing. The team was special. It was a great team to play for. I really enjoyed my time with my wife, myself, my kids, a great community and everything else that goes along with it. So, would I love to be a Minnesota Viking? Absolutely, without a doubt.”

The Vikings have the eighth pick in the NFL draft on May 8. Of the first 11 teams drafting, five others have a need at quarterback. Cassel could be looked at as a short-term solution for a franchise that seeks to develop its future quarterback through the draft.

Four college quarterbacks — Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville, Blake Bortles of Central Florida, Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M and Derek Carr of Fresno State — are projected to be top-10 picks.

Cassel, played in nine games for the Vikings this season, starting six, and was 25th in the NFL in passer rating (81.6). He started Week 4 against Pittsburgh in London when Ponder was injured and led the Vikings to their first victory. Freeman, released by Tampa Bay, was signed the following week and was expected to step in as the starter, which he did when Cassel struggled in a loss to Carolina. But Freeman’s one start, against the Giants, was a disaster, and he was sidelined the next week by a concussion. He did not play again. Cassel was not officially deemed the team’s No. 1 quarterback by coach Leslie Frazier until four games were left in the season. Frazier was fired following the season, and former Bengals coordinator Mike Zimmer was hired to replace him Jan. 15.

“We are going to do our very best to have the best quarterback in the division,” Zimmer said at his introductory news conference. “I understand that there are some very good quarterbacks in this division. But my job is to win football games, not to worry about if our quarterback is fourth best in the division or first best in the division. What we want to try to do is win football games however we have to. … A lot of times if you don’t make mistakes, you beat half of the teams in this league.”

Ponder, the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft, signed a four-year contract for $10.15 million that is fully guaranteed. His signing bonus of $5.8 million is paid out evenly over four years. For 2014, his salary is $1.76 million with another bonus of nearly $1.5 million. If the Vikings cut him this offseason, they would be on the hook for that money and a $3.2 million salary cap hit.

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Minnesota 35 FINAL
Miami 37
Baltimore 13 FINAL
Houston 25
Detroit 20 FINAL
Chicago 14
Cleveland 13 FINAL
Carolina 17
Atlanta 30 FINAL
New Orleans 14
Green Bay 20 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 12 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
New England 17 FINAL
NY Jets 16
NY Giants 37 FINAL
St. Louis 27
Buffalo 24 FINAL
Oakland 26
Indianapolis 7 FINAL
Dallas 42
Seattle 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 108 FINAL
Toronto 118
Memphis 91 FINAL
Cleveland 105
Boston 79 4th Qtr 2:24
Miami 92
Detroit 102 4th Qtr 0:41
Brooklyn 104
LA Lakers 91 4th Qtr 6:17
Sacramento 90
Philadelphia 92 4th Qtr 3:20
Orlando 78
Phoenix 93 4th Qtr 3:37
Washington 87
Indiana 52 3rd Qtr
Minnesota 38
New Orleans 53 3rd Qtr
Oklahoma City 48
Colorado 0 3rd Prd 9:42
Detroit 1
Dallas 4 3rd Prd 13:59
Edmonton 5
Buffalo 0 2nd Prd 14:58
Boston 1
Carolina 0 2nd Prd 14:21
NY Rangers 1
Toronto 0 2nd Prd 14:44
Chicago 2
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Winnipeg
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 69 FINAL
Army 72
Ferris State 82 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
San Francisco 65 FINAL
Cleveland State 69
Oregon State 52 FINAL
Quinnipiac 60
Coastal Carolina 72 FINAL
Central Arkansas 55
Holy Cross 48 FINAL
Canisius 67
Southern Miss 55 FINAL
Georgia State 68
Western Carolina 66 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 62
Creighton 58 FINAL
North Texas 62
Maryland 73 FINAL
Oklahoma State 64
Cornell 61 FINAL
Radford 74
Vermont 55 FINAL
Saint Louis 58
Loyola-Maryland 52 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Reinhardt 72 FINAL
Winthrop 100
Ark-Little Rock 46 FINAL
Green Bay 66
TX-Pan American 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 77
Alabama State 63 FINAL
Evansville 81
FIU 69 FINAL
Hartford 82
Goshen 55 FINAL
Valparaiso 82
Bryant 48 FINAL
Denver 46
Austin Peay 63 FINAL
Lipscomb 69
Tennessee St 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 65
South Dakota 67 FINAL
Montana 62
ULM 50 FINAL
Samford 64
Coker 52 FINAL
South Carolina 78
USC 75 FINAL
Boston College 71
Northern Ariz 66 FINAL
Hampton 75
SD Christian 61 FINAL
San Diego 71
UC Irvine 55 FINAL
Bradley 47
Troy 65 FINAL
Nicholls 64
Seton Hall 47 FINAL
Georgia 65
Appalachian St 54 2nd Half 3:51
Alabama 56
North Dakota St 34 2nd Half 10:14
Kent State 34
San Jose St 31 2nd Half 17:28
Washington St 49
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Seattle
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
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Western Ky
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Rice
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Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
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George Washington 70
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Nicholls 57
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Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 84
Fairleigh Dickinson 74 FINAL
Brown 79
Buffalo 73 FINAL
Long Island 79
Bucknell 74 FINAL
Mount St Marys 49
Stony Brook 70 FINAL
Wagner 76
FIU 83 FINAL
Wofford 75
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Providence 67
Maine 54 FINAL
William & Mary 51
Alabama State 43 FINAL
Samford 56
TX-Pan American 43 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 64
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
Marist 82
Saint Josephs 50 FINAL
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 60 FINAL
Virginia Tech 73
(3) Texas 67 FINAL
(4) Texas A&M 65
Rhode Island 60 FINAL
Bryant 56
South Florida 90 FINAL
Penn State 87
Sam Houston St 55 FINAL
TCU 79
Evansville 50 FINAL
IUPUI 62
(14) Maryland 110 FINAL
Coppin State 51
Mercer 59 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 72
NC A&T 43 FINAL
Chattanooga 58
Princeton 84 FINAL
Monmouth 53
Eastern Illinois 69 FINAL
Lehigh 72
Rider 67 FINAL
Binghamton 72
SC State 57 FINAL
Clemson 66
Fairfield 63 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Richmond 70 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 56
Cleveland State 80 FINAL
Morehead St 72
Kent State 62 FINAL
Colgate 61
South Alabama 43 FINAL
UAB 73
Saint Peters 35 FINAL
Navy 71
Youngstown St 52 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
NJIT 50 FINAL
Lafayette 66
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Tulsa 59
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(19) Syracuse 76
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TX-Arlington 46 FINAL
North Texas 38
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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 NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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