Cassel's choice due by Friday

Matt Cassel has until Friday to decide if he wants to stay with the Vikings under his current contract, and one report says he will void his contract. There is plenty to factor into his decision, including the details of the money, and voiding it this week doesn't prohibit a return under a new contract.

On March 15, 2013, Matt Cassel signed his name to a two-year contract with the Minnesota Vikings that had a maximum value of $7.4 million.

Less than a year later, the Vikings are waiting to see if Cassel is signing another piece of paper. Within Cassel's contract was a provision that he could void the 2014 portion of his contract with written notice on or before five days after Super Bowl XLVIII.

That means Cassel has until Friday to decide if he wants to keep his contract with the Vikings, look for work elsewhere or hope the team with a new coaching staff – including a new head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach – is interested in putting together a new contract. According to a tweet from KSTP-TV's Darren Wolfson, Cassel will void his contract.

"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," Cassel said after the last game of the season. "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."

Voiding the current contract, however, doesn't rule out the possibility of him returning on a different contract.

Cassel's deal called for nearly identical payouts in 2013 and 2014, going by what the final compensation and salary cap number would be – $3.7 million in each season. The difference is in how the base salary and roster bonuses were split up within that $3.7 million. In 2013, Cassel got $1.65 million in base salary and a roster bonus of $2 million, with a $50,000 workout bonus.

This year, the workout bonus remains the same, but the base salary is scheduled to be $3.15 million and his roster bonus would be one-fourth of what it was last year – calling for $500,000 next month.

Of course, new head coach Mike Zimmer and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner will have a major role in deciding where Cassel stacks up on the priority list at the quarterback position. Shortly after being hired, Zimmer said he hadn't had time to evaluate the quarterbacks yet.

"Once we get the offensive coordinator hired, I think what we're going to try to do is sit down and start to evaluate (the offensive) guys," Zimmer said. "But I think it'd be unfair for me to sit here and say, ‘So-and-so is not ready to play. So-and-so is going to be a great quarterback.' We all have to prove our worth, and that's no different for myself, the quarterback or anybody else."

Cassel proved to be a valuable addition to the Vikings in 2013, starting six games while replacing Christian Ponder and compiling a 3-3 record as a starter while Ponder was 2-6-1 in his nine starts. While Ponder had a higher completion percentage (63.6 vs. Cassel's 60.2), Cassel threw 11 touchdowns against nine interceptions and Ponder had seven TDs to nine INTs.

Despite the pedestrian numbers produced by both quarterbacks, Zimmer wasn't shy about his intentions for the position.

"We're going to try to do our very best to have the best quarterback in the division. I understand there are some very good quarterbacks in this division," he said. "But my job is to win football games. It's not to worry about if our quarterback's the fourth-best in the division or the first-best in the division. What we want to try to do is win football games, however we have to. It doesn't matter what kind of offense. … Quite honestly, as long as everyone's on the same page, everybody knows what they're supposed to do and everybody does it to the best of their ability, you can win football games. A lot of times, if you don't make mistakes, you beat half the teams in this league."

If Cassel decides to stay with the Vikings, the Vikings would have until March 17 to decide if they want to keep him by paying him a $500,000 roster bonus. Considering they paid four times that last year and he was their best option at the position, that would seem likely if he decides to stay. As of Wednesday morning, however, it appeared Cassel was preparing to opt out.

Ultimately, the first decision is in Cassel's court and that decision has to be made by Friday.

"I am sure that there will be multiple things that go into my decision," he said after the season finale.


Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
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