Vikings Trade QB Matt Cassel to Buffalo Bills


The Minnesota Vikings have traded journeyman QB Matt Cassel and an undisclosed draft pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for more than one undisclosed draft pick, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

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The team has confirmed that the trade will become official at the start of the new league year next week.

Cassel was set to be paid $4.75 million in 2015, a very high number for a backup quarterback. Trading Cassel clears almost $5 million in cap space and allows the Vikings to sign a cheaper #2 option behind clear #1 QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Free agent possibilities for the new backup could include former Browns QB Brian Hoyer, who worked with current Vikings OC Norv Turner in Cleveland. Mark Sanchez, Jimmy Clausen and Jake Locker are among the less-than-compelling names also on the market.

The Vikings could also elect to bring back former #12 overall draft pick Christian Ponder, though both team and player would probably prefer not to continue their relationship.

Rick Spielman has also mentioned the possibility of drafting a QB late to develop as a backup.

The 32-year-old Cassel came to the Vikings two years ago as insurance behind the struggling Ponder. After getting caught up in a three-man QB shuffle involving Ponder and Josh Freeman, Cassel was brought back as the #1 at the beginning of 2014, with first round pick Bridgewater waiting in the wings.

An injury against the Saints sent Cassel to the bench and elevated rookie Bridgewater prematurely to the starting QB job. Bridgewater developed steadily and impressively over the course of the season and by year’s end it became clear the Vikings no longer had need of Cassel’s mentoring/bridge QB services. At least not at nearly $5 million for one year.

Had the Vikings not traded Cassel, it’s likely the team would have wound up cutting him to recoup the cap space. It never made sense to keep him at nearly $5 million and it never would have made sense for Cassel, who certainly believes he can still start, to re-negotiate his deal and stay in Minnesota behind a now-established starter.

The trade gets the Vikings out of a semi-bad contract while bringing back some draft pick value, while giving Cassel a chance to compete for a starting spot. Everybody wins, except panicky Viking fans who think this means Ponder is coming back.

Update: We now have the particulars on the draft picks involved in the trade.

Cassel and a 6th for a 5th this year and a 7th next year? Plus you save almost $5 million on the cap? Not bad Spielman.

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