Cassel signing changes Vikings' QB landscape

The Vikings' quarterback need has diminished with the return of Matt Cassel and could alter their draft plans.

There are times when a franchise makes a call that sends a ripple that is noticed in the ponding puddles in The Land of 2.3 Million Brownish Lakes.

The decision to re-sign Matt Cassel to a two-year, $10 million contract had a domino effect that could greatly impact the Vikings plans in free agency and the draft. When Cassel was signed last March, it was made clear that he would be entering training camp as the No. 2 quarterback behind Christian Ponder and that wasn't going to change unless Ponder got hurt.

Ponder did get hurt and the Vikings offense played better with Cassel at the helm. But with Cassel able to control his own future, he opted out of the second year of his contract because, even if he didn't get the chance to be the No. 1 QB on somebody's roster, he was able to take the chance that he would make more than the $3.7 million he was scheduled to make in 2014 and the $500,000 guarantee that was due in March.

At the time he opted out, we pointed out that the Vikings still remained the best landing spot for him and that this eventuality could well happen. It did and has changed the landscape of the quarterback position for the Vikings heading into 2014.

The signing of Cassel eliminates the Vikings need to jump on a free agent quarterback when the signing period begins Tuesday. Those who were theorizing that Michael Vick could be in purple can stop that line of thinking (including Vick himself).

It also likely changes the status of Ponder. There was a growing belief (outside the organization) that Ponder would be traded or released. Bringing back Cassel, who had a good relationship with Ponder last year, means Ponder could likely play out the remaining year in his rookie contract – the only difference being that he will be the No. 2 QB entering the offseason training program next month.

But perhaps the biggest change will come in the Vikings' draft plan. While the Cassel signing doesn't eliminate the need at quarterback for the long term, it may well impact how they address the draft. The conventional wisdom was that the Vikings would take one of the top three quarterbacks (Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel) if one of them is available at No. 8. But, if all three of them are gone, which is expected, the Vikings now have the option of trading back to acquire more picks if they choose to do so.

The Vikings may still have an interest in Derek Carr, but, with Cassel and Ponder now both expected to be coming back, they don't have to reach for him if they want him at No. 8 and might be able to drop back in the first round and still get him or use a mid-round pick to select a developmental type QB after the first round.

The Cassel signing was good news for Vikings fans worried about the many questions at the quarterback position. He isn't the long-term answer at the position and the team may still be looking at the draft for that solution, but the ripple effect created by the signing has changed the landscape for the Vikings in both free agency and the draft.

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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