VikesCentric is written by Twin Cities football writers Bo Mitchell of SportsData and Patrick Donnelly, who has written on a variety of Minnesota sports topics. Mitchell and Donnelly are Twin Cities-based Vikings and NFL experts who crunch numbers, watch video and tell you what's on their minds.

VikesCentric: Vikings need to bring Cassel back

Posted by: Bo Mitchell Updated: February 13, 2014 - 9:23 AM

I’m hearing a lot of pundits lately suggesting the Vikings should just wait to draft a quarterback rather than reaching for one with the eighth overall selection. I would gladly co-sign on that idea assuming Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles are all off the board by the time the Vikings are on the clock, which could absolutely happen.

Bridgewater, Manziel and Bortles have separated themselves from the pack as the consensus top-three signal callers (in whatever order) in this year’s draft class and if I were the Vikes, I would be happy with any of the three. My fairly well-documented preference remains Johnny Football, though I could see him going No. 1 overall to the Texans. Having said that, I would not consider any of them a “reach” with that eighth pick, as all three have the potential to be good or very good at the next level.

But what if all three are gone? The Texans, Jaguars, Browns, Raiders and Buccaneers could all potentially use a quarterback, and all five of those teams pick ahead of the Vikings. If all three quarterbacks get scooped up ahead of the purple they’ll need to wait on drafting a quarterback and pluck a blue-chip defender in Round 1 instead. In fact, the Vikings might want to use at least six of their eight picks to patch holes in their leaky defense. General Manager Rick Spielman is on record as saying he wants even more picks; he wants to deal his way into 10 draft picks. If he does so, I say he should spend at least eight on defense.

But the fact remains, as many needs as their defense has, the Vikings aren’t going anywhere without a solution at quarterback. Nor can they count on finding a Tom Brady, Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick – very good to elite quarterbacks that slip through the cracks and out of the first round (a.k.a. outliers). The Vikings just don’t have that kind of luck.

That’s why the Vikings can’t wait until the draft to figure it out. And they can’t close the door on Matt Cassel coming back.

The NFL year starts anew in one month, on March 11, and with it free agency begins. Jay Cutler is no longer an option, leaving the free agency quarterback crop mighty thin. The best fit of the bunch is probably none other than Cassel, who wisely opted out of his deal with the Vikings last Friday. It was the best move for Cassel and should result in a few million more dollars in his pocket. The Vikings have wisely been talking with him about potentially returning. Granted, he’s not the ideal long-term solution, but said solution doesn’t exist on the free agency (or trade) market. Cassel can do an adequate job, which will get the Vikings by for a few years – or until they find a better fix, whichever comes first.

Of the free agents, I’d prefer Cassel in purple to Michael Vick, who is too much of an injury risk and not known for his accuracy or taking care of the football. I’d probably put Josh McCown on about the same level as Cassel, maybe a little lower. His numbers last year with the Bears were unquestionably helped by two Pro Bowl wide receivers. After that, the free agency quarterback list gets murky in a hurry. Josh Freeman, anyone? Shaun Hill? Tarvaris Jackson? I hear Tim Tebow is still looking for work.

Yes, all this assumes that Christian Ponder will not be in Mankato when the Vikings begin training camp in July. Norv Turner had to discuss Ponder last week in meetings with the press because, well, he’s the only quarterback actually on the roster right now. Considering his history with the team, however, you have to believe Ponder won’t be a Viking much longer. I’m guessing Ponder won’t mind.

Read between the lines of what Turner had to say regarding what he looks for in a quarterback last week:

“I think this league has gotten to a point where the mental part of it is really, really critical; guys that can grasp concepts, who can make quick decisions, guys who understand how to play the game,” Turner said. “That is easier said than done, after that the physical skill set it takes to play and to me accuracy is an important as any skill in terms being a passer. You look at all the great passers in there, the starting point is that they have great accuracy.”

Making quick decisions and great accuracy… not exactly hallmarks of the Ponder tool kit.

So it’s come to this: the Vikings kind of need to pursue Cassel. They actually need him back to a certain extent. That gives Cassel some leverage -- unless the Vikings start exploring trades or some other quarterbacks get released to the free agency market.

It sounds like the Texans will save themselves some money by releasing Matt Schaub. Does he do anything for you? More than Cassel? Not me. What about Brandon Weeden? He wants out of Cleveland (who can blame him?) and it sounds like the Browns might oblige him. I’d rather have Cassel than him too.

The more interesting discussion is Kirk Cousins of the Redskins, who reiterated Wednesday that he wants a chance to start elsewhere. If you give me the choice of Cousins or Cassel, I’d opt for rolling the dice on Cousins. The guess here, however, is the Redskins would be looking for a second or third-round draft pick in exchange for sending any team a starting quarterback (which Cousins would likely be regardless of who they trade him to). At that price, give me Cassel. I’m guessing the draft-pick hoarding Spielman would agree.

I’m bracing for the onslaught of Derek Carr or Zach Mettenberger apologists in the comments section below, but to me the Vikings absolutely have to have Cassel, Bridgewater, Bortles or Manziel in Mankato this summer. Ideally, they’d have two of the four.

Bo Mitchell is the Vice President of Content at SportsData and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America

You can follow Bo on Twitter at @Bo_Mitchell

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
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 Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
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: How many fantasy football teams do you draft?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT