The Vikings traded Matt Cassel to the Bills today in a move that strikes us a little odd since Cassel is a very functional backup but that also signals that the Vikings have supreme faith in Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback.
Our question of the afternoon is this: Where does Cassel rank among Vikings quarterbacks of a similar ilk over the past few decades? Minnesota has clearly had some very good QBs (even for very short periods of time); we’d consider Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Brett Favre and Daunte Culpepper to be in that category, ahead of Cassel. Bridgewater is in a separate category since he’s still very new.
But among these QBs, where does Cassel rank: Brad Johnson, Gus Frerotte, Tarvaris Jackson, Sean Salisbury, Christian Ponder, Jim McMahon, Donovan McNabb and Cassel.
These are the guys who were constantly teetering between being starters and backups — functional in some ways, limited in others.
Our temptation is to put Johnson first because he stood the test of time longer than the rest. McNabb is at the bottom, with Ponder and Jackson right above him. The real competition is between Salisbury, McMahon, Frerotte and Cassel.
Something makes us want to put Cassel above the rest of those guys, but the numbers don’t really bear that out. So we’ll leave it open to interpretation in the comments.
The Vikings have agreed to trade backup quarterback Matt Cassel to the Buffalo Bills.
This time a year ago, the Vikings re-signed Cassel to a two-year contract so the veteran could be the “bridge” to their quarterback of the future. That quarterback ended up being Teddy Bridgewater, who had a promising rookie season after replacing Cassel, who fractured his foot, in Week 3.
Cassel, who was placed on season-ending injured reserve, would have been one of the league’s highest-paid backup quarterbacks in 2015. Now he will get a chance to start for the Bills, who in the past two days agreed to trade for a star running back in LeSean McCoy and a veteran QB in Cassel.
According to the Bills’ website, the Bills will send two undisclosed draft picks to the Vikings in exchange for Cassel and an undisclosed pick. The trade can’t become official until the start of the league year, so Tuesday at 3 p.m. CDT.
Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reported that Minnesota will receive a 2015 fifth-round pick and a 2016 seventh-round pick from Buffalo. The Vikings will send Cassel and a 2015 sixth-rounder to the Bills.
By trading Cassel, the Vikings will free up $4.75 million in salary cap space. As it stands now, the team will enter free agency with about $25 million in cap space.
General Manager Rick Spielman had positive things to say about Cassel when he was asked about the quarterback at the NFL scouting combine two weeks ago, but he was non-committal about his status for 2015.
“Matt’s done a great job,” Spielman said. “He came in and won some games when he had to play and he’s a great locker room guy and Matt adds a lot of value to us.”
Cassel appeared in 12 games, nine of them starts, over two seasons with the Vikings. He threw 14 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions while compiling a 4-5 record as a starter.
He edged out Bridgewater to start the 2014 opener after a solid training camp and preseason. Bridgewater likely would have replaced him eventually, but Cassel’s injury opened the door.
Now with Bridgewater locked in as the starter, Cassel was expendable. The Vikings will now presumably look for a veteran backup in free agency and possibly draft a developmental passer.
Mark Sanchez, Jake Locker, Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, along with former Vikings Tarvaris Jackson, Shaun Hill and Christian Ponder, are among the QBs scheduled to hit free agency.
I know there are more prominent matters of concern as it pertains to the Vikings beat right now. You know, like where Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman ate breakfast at MSP this morning before flying down to Texas to meet with a certain disgruntled Pro Bowl running back.
But as we wait for new developments in #PetersonWatch, I figured I’d throw up a quick block post on what Spielman had to say about compensatory picks when we talked to him the other day.
Simply put, the GM doesn’t expect the Vikings to get any compensatory picks again this year when the recipients of the 32 comp picks are announced at the owners meetings next month.
My colleague Mark Craig wrote an informative piece on comp picks last year. One tidbit from that: In two decades, the Vikings have only received 16 of them and haven’t gotten one since 2012.
But why none this year? Yes, the Vikings lost a few notable unrestricted free agents last offseason, the biggest being defensive end Jared Allen. But they signed some, too, led by nose tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn. The NFL doesn’t make its formula public, but it is based on more than just the salaries handed out, including playing time and postseason honors.
So basically all those signings will likely cancel out and the Vikings will get no extra picks.
Still, despite not getting many compensatory picks in recent years, Spielman said the Vikings keep the secret formula in mind when deciding whom to sign in the offseason. For example, players who were cut by their previous teams don’t count towards the formula.
“There’s a pretty good group of guys that are going to get cut or have been cut already,” Spielman said. “So if you can potentially fill some needs with guys getting released, that doesn’t affect potential compensatory picks the following year. You weigh [unrestricted free agents] but we also put in all the guys that are potential street free agents, and if we can go that route, we may look at that route because it could potentially help you with compensatory picks.”
I wouldn’t get your hopes up for 2016 comp picks, though.
The Vikings don’t have any higher-profile players hitting the free-agent market because they locked up guys like tight end Kyle Rudolph and right guard Brandon Fusco before the season. Middle linebacker Jasper Brinkley and backup defensive tackle Tom Johnson, who each played less than half of the defensive snaps last season, are probably their most notable free agents.
Anyway, time to get back to refreshing Twitter in case Spielman and Zimmer stop to grab lunch.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman will reportedly meet with Adrian Peterson in Texas today, apparently because Peterson — who missed all but one game last season after whipping his son with a switch — has some hurt feelings.
It’s twisted, but sports are twisted. The upshot is the Vikings can now talk to Peterson — and next week, when the league season changes over and free agency begins, they could trade him.
The prospect of trading Peterson — combined with Dallas’ potential interest in him — has Vikings fans dreaming of a reverse Herschel Walker deal, whereby Minnesota would get a massive haul in return.
That dream should have been immediately realized as folly because the market for and importance of running backs is vastly different than it was a generation ago, but if it wasn’t, some other news Wednesday should snuff it out completely.
The Eagles have traded LeSean McCoy to the Bills for a young linebacker coming off of a torn ACL, Kiko Alonso.
That’s it. No more. A clean 1-for-1 swap.
So now we know the trade value for an elite NFL running back (McCoy has nearly 3,000 yards rushing combined in the past two seasons) who is a better pass-catcher than Peterson (three years of at least 50 catches, including one year with 78), is three years younger than Peterson (McCoy turns 27 in July), is due to make less money and count less against the salary cap than Peterson and whose most significant proven off-field transgression is that he is a bad tipper.
That value is one young linebacker — a former second-round pick who had a very good rookie season, but one who is coming off a very serious injury and isn’t doing full-speed drills yet.
We have to imagine Peterson’s trade value is significantly less than that. The Vikings and Peterson might end up parting ways regardless, but now even more so than a day ago we should know not to expect much in return.
Now that the Vikings can officially meet with Adrian Peterson, they intend to do just that.
A source confirmed Peterson will meet with Vikings officials Wednesday in Houston. USA Today reported Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will fly to Texas for the meeting; it also said general manager Rick Spielman was likely to fly with Zimmer.
Spielman said Monday the Vikings have spoken to Peterson by phone and that they would continue to have an “open dialogue” with their star running back while he is on the commissioner’s exempt list.
Peterson won a recent court victory when his NFL suspension, set to run until at least April 15, was sent back to the league by Judge David Doty, who ruled an NFL arbitrator’s upholding of the suspension was flawed. The league then put Peterson on the exempt list, meaning all Vikings officials could talk with him. The NFL appealed to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, but that hearing isn’t likely for months.
“We are able to have communication now with Adrian,” Spielman said Monday. “We’ll keep all those communications internal. I don’t want to give you guys a blow-by-blow [account] every day. I think it’s been very clearly stated that we want to have Adrian Peterson back. There’s no question about the talent. He’s a unique talent and he’s under contract with us next year.”
Spielman was asked about Peterson’s comment two weeks ago about feeling “uneasy” about potentially returning to the Vikings and whether there is a “rift” between the player and the team.
“I’m not going to get into anything on that front,” said Spielman, who later added, “I can tell you that we’re going to have and we have open communication with him and we’ll just leave all those discussions between us and Adrian.”
Peterson’s contract runs through 2017. He is scheduled to make $12.75 million this season, none of it guaranteed; based on their recent posturing, it seems as if the Vikings are willing to pay Peterson his full salary and not attempt to renegotiate his contract.