Free Agency

2014 NFL Free Agency: Matt Cassel, Marcus Sherels Re-Sign with the Minnesota Vikings

On the cusp of the “legal tampering period,” Ian Rapaport reports that the Minnesota Vikings have re-signed veteran quarterback Matt Cassel.

Earlier today, the Vikings also announced that they resigned cornerback and punt returner Marcus Sherels.

Cassel may have been an extremely up-and-down quarterback this last year, but this re-signing is probably a good thing. It may mean that the Vikings wouldn’t go after potentially more tantalizing targets like Michael Vick or Josh McCown, but with those two at the top of the free agency market for quarterbacks, it wasn’t a good group to begin with.

Between Cassel and Ponder, Cassel showed significantly higher highs, but also on occasion lower lows, with his game-by-game performance:

Cassel and Ponder's game-by-game performance, according to various metrics
Cassel and Ponder’s game-by-game performance, according to various metrics

While Ponder was more consistent, he was consistently bad, while Cassel’s volatility produced above-average games. Even from a film-perspective, the difference between Cassel against Philadelphia, one of the single-most compelling performances for any quarterback this year, and his game against Seattle or Carolina, both depressing.

Cassel did a better job using the tools available to him on a more frequent basis and is still honestly one of the better backup quarterbacks in a league sorely lacking in quarterback options.

The roster needs to have a number of quarterbacks. They won’t all be young or have massive upside. Cassel can fill the role of a backup quarterback just fine, and could potentially help groom the next young Vikings quarterback, which is all he will be asked to do.

As for Sherels, he’s a player whose talent has gone from questionable to hopeful. His short period as a slot cornerback this year was promising (although he did have major miscues) and it looks like he could continue to be solid depth as a nickel corner while remaining one of the better punt returners in the league.


Update: Matt Cassel’s deal was two years for $10 million, which improves his option base salary of $3.75 million to an average salary of $5 million. Presumably, there is also more guaranteed money.

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  1. Ok, looks as if SpielMullen has Plan B and the other Plan B solidly in place
    Nice CYA Ricky Poo. Now go get a FA difference maker …….

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>?????????????? ….. Dugan!

  2. Good backstop if they get a young ‘un that needs time to develop. Squashed the sign Vick or trade for Rivers etc. rumors.

    Of the 41 in spending….does anyone know if that is on top of what’s slotted for their draft picks, or it will need to come out of that number?

    1. For people slotted at 8th in the order, the total draft pick money should be about 6.2 million with the new cap number, unless the Vikings trade out of their third or fourth-round picks for more picks in later rounds, which would push it up to 6.5M or so.

  3. Got it Arif… part of the 41M under the cap will be spent on the draft picks? Am I assuming correctly on that?

  4. I think this was the right move. If Cassel starts the year as the number 1 and gets the reps it’s likely he will be more consistent. It has to be hard for a qb when they get jerked around like he was last year.

  5. Statistically there wasn’t a significant difference between Cassel and Ponder except for the all-important Ws. In my opinion that suggests better decision making skills that hopefully can be shared with a rookie. Vick might have been a dynamic option but he has always opted to run out of trouble rather than throw. If he does throw under pressure its often to the wrong team.
    Simply put, if we were looking for a rental to get us to the playoffs this year, Vick was probably a fair choice. If we are looking for a vet to teach our QBOTF I think Cassel makes more sense.

  6. The Vikings personnel issues begin with a legitimate offensive threat. Admittedly, Adrian Peterson is an above average football player, (he’s stellar at procreation). Peterson severely lacks the capacity to disable those pesky officials who cost the Vikings 20-25 TD’s last season.

    A “team” concept is what the Vikings truly need. You can’t spell team without an “a”. You also can’t spell “Dugan” with out an “a”. It’s the missing piece to the puzzle. The Vikings need to fill the “a” hole. I suggest they sign the biggest “a” hole filler on the planet. Jeff Meta Universal Peace Dugan – The A Hole!

    1. they can’t sign him until he returns. he had to go over and annex the Crimea region of Ukraine to the USA. putin hates A hole fillers

  7. Really glad to see our SE hero Marcus staying in the fold. He’s a darn good kid, I think the new staff will like him.
    Nice chart Arif, but I gotta admit the “NFL average” line is the only one that makes any sense. Shouldn’t there be numbers or words along the bottom and the left side?

    1. Adding numbers to the chart would have been confusing, as one is a passer rating that spans from 40-110 or so and the other is AYA, spanning from 2-10. I just scaled passer rating to AYA so that it looks like it’s on the same scale. If it was a rigorous graph used to prove more than a glancing point, units would have been more useful.

      Though now that I think about it, numbers on the left and right may have solved that problem.

      Each point on the x-axis, incidentally, is a game they played significant snaps in. Cassel had 7, Ponder 8.

      1. OK, that makes sense. More of a visual than an actual source of hard data. Thanks.

  8. Cassel and Ponder were similarly poor in so many situations. I do like that Christian was only sacked half as many times as Matt…..but other than that….meh.

  9. Zimmer is great… refreshing it is to hear our HC say that his final roster will determine what style football is played……his dad taught him that…..same with whatever QB we end up with, average, above average or great…Zimmer and Turner will get the most out of every player by coaching to the player’s strengths… long I have waited to have a HC like that in the land of Purple!

    Yes, Ole, Dugan would become a pro bowler under the Zimmer regime…..

  10. I think Cassel’s signing means there are 2-3 QBs Turner would be willing to work with that will go in rounds 1-3, however they “fall”…..BPA will be our theme in the draft…..Rick says the final decision is his…..but I see Zimmer and Turner “telling” Rick what that decision should be…..

    by the way, I believe 2-3 yrs ago we all agreed that someone should do a big time movie on the draft…..thank you, Kevin!

  11. Both Cassel and Ponder are suck. Their QB ratings are below the average in most of the games….Is $5M a reasonable salary for the back-up QB?

    1. KDNY…..give Cassel some time with Turner instead of Musgrave and then post again…..the fact that he signed early also tells me he wants to be here…..and that’s always a good thing…..

    2. Who said he was the backup? I think he is the starter while they develop a young QB.

  12. Great!
    Next FA singings:
    Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
    Linval Joseph, New York Giants
    Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans

    Then draft a DT, LB, CB and Guard.

    Or how about Watkins or Evans in the 1st round. Give Matt another target.

    1. Like your FA list Joe…but I do think we need to draft a QB. Cassel is…Cassel.

      1. Yes a QB. That goes without saying. Not sure why it was not 1st on my draft list list comment.

        Should have put 2 LB’s there as well. How sweet would Mack or Mosley in the 1st and Shazier in the 2nd be? Along with Greenway and you are instantly one of the better LB groups in the league.

        If I were boss, I would look like crazy for the best deal to move down to as low as 18 in the draft. Depending on how the QB’s go, one of the top 3 may slide or maybe take Carr there. Even if they are all gone by 18 there will be DT’s, LB’s, CB’s and maybe a safety that would not be a reach and fill a need.

        Then grab which ever QB is Coach Turners favorite later – Garoppolo, Mettenberger, McCarron, Murray etc.

        If the Vikings fill some needs through FA, they may be able to take a top WR at in the 1st round. I know WR is not there highest priority but that may be the easiest way to make an impact on this team. Think about it, Peterson in the backfield with Patterson, Jennings and either Watkins or Evans at WR. I think Cassel can manage the group very well. Throw in an upgrade at guard and on paper this looks like a nice offense. Coach Turner with those weapons, wow the potential.

        Speaking of offense, how about Trey Mason in the 2nd round? If he happens to be there in the 3rd (some mocks have him there) I would run to the podium.

        1. Agree about the LB’s ….getting Mack would not be bad. A lot depends on FA. Not really crazy about any of these QB’s, so getting one later might be best.
          If Mason is there in the 3rd? Yeah, AD ain’t getting any younger.
          But, besides OG and QB….Defense, Defense, Defense!

          1. So, you don’t like the WR pick in the 1st. That’s OK cause we agree on most things, like being tortured Viking fans.

            Love this web site and blog. I live in NJ. not many Vikings fans here to discuss my favorite purple team.

  13. not a bad move. not a lot of money if he’s starting, and a better mentor than vick would’ve been. just don’t like vick after the dog stuff, anyway, and he didn’t study and work at being a good QB. sherels is doing his job and he’s a homer, so that’s not bad, either

  14. As various media outlets talk about available FA QB’s, I notice that Josh Freeman’s name is seldom mentioned. His comeback trail looks to be a very long one.

    1. That is weird, isn’t it? Freeman has the arm, he’s fairly athletic, been to a pro Bowl, first round pick, only 26 and NO ONE is calling. That one debacle of a game he played couldn’t be the reason.
      Has to be something very wrong with this dude behind the scenes.

      1. Fran, I read that he was late for a lot of meetings and was the last one in the facility and the first one to leave throughout the week. Obviously he does not take his job seriously.

        1. I had heard that too but if he’s anything approaching an elite QB, being late to meetings would be overlooked. Has to be more to the story.

  15. As far as the Cassel signing, I guess it’s the best we could do. Obviously we’re a year or two from contention and this gives us the time we’ll need to bring along who ever we pick up in the draft this year.
    Of course the optimistic side of me remembers that year Cassel took over from Brady. . .
    Shoot! We could be going to the Super Bowl this year!

    1. Charlie, that was me that gave you the thumbs down. I hit it
      by mistake. I got big fat fingers and there isn’t a lot of room between the two! Sorry about that.

        1. I had heard that too but if he’s anything approaching an elite QB, being late to meetings would be overlooked. Has to be more to the story.

          1. Of course once again I put that comment in the wrong spot.
            Meant to say here; BOY Howdy! (On the thick skin)

  16. Good, I like Sherels. Very good punt returner. And there were times last year when, Rhodes got hurt, that I truly believe he was the best corner on the field. Not that he’s all that as a DB…just how bad the team is.
    I’m with the Cassel signing. 1st, it means no Vick…whew! Dude is a turnover waiting to happen. 2nd, we could be getting closer to Ponder being cut or traded. Cassel is not the answer at QB, he is better than Ponder or Vick. And seems like a good vet to have for a young QB named Johnny FOOTBALL!

  17. Just read that The eagles are also very interested in Michael Johnson. This could turn into a bidding war for him. However, we do have Zim so that could be a big factor.

    1. Norse, I hope you’re scouring all the rumor mills and find us something to chew on.

      1. No promises Johnny, but if there is something out there that could affect the Vikes I’ll post it. I am very curious what Spielman and company are going to do this year. We could really plug some holes before the draft.

        1. I hope Ricky doesn’t disappoint us in free agency this time around. He finally has the cap room and I think he will listen to Zimmer and co. Seems to be a genuine trust between Ricky and Zim.

          1. Yeah, looks like they have a good relationship. I will give Ricky credit and taking a back seat and listening to Zimmer and Turner. Not many GM’s are willing to do that.

  18. Hey Johnny, found something to chew. Just read that the Vikes are showing interest in Verner. He was coached by Jerry Gray the past 3 seasons in Tennesse. Zimmer hired Gray as the Vikings DB coach. So there ya go!

    1. Fingers crossed. He would be a huge addition at a position of weakness and knock cb down the draft list a little.

      1. Agreed. If we can get a CB, DE and LB in free agency, the Vikes can really set themselves up for a great draft and much improved team. I am also hoping Zimmer can convince LB Vincent Rey from the Bengals to come on over.

  19. Reading between the lines, Zimmer seems pretty big on loyalty. That may mean that he will be careful to not appear to “raid” the Bengal squad. If someone is clearly leaving, yes, no question, but it seems like he wouldn’t be one to burn a bridge by prying a player away. I know all about the “it’s a business” thing, but there are some even in the business world who have certain internal rules.

    1. We’re gonna need a roster in our hands for the first couple of games this year, aren’t we cart.

      1. At first I thought you meant “Rooster” and I was sort of agreeing; Take a rooster out to the 50 yard line, make a sacrifice. . .still might not be a bad idea.

        1. I gotta say, Fran… that’s pretty wierd. What you say we stick with roster and call it good?

            1. Yeah but I have to admit, I was thinking it.
              As Coach so kindly pointed out on another thread, I’ m getting pretty long in the tooth.
              Having rooted for my beloved Vikings for over 50 years now, I’d march a sacred Cow out onto the field and sacrifice it if I thought that would get us a Super Bowl win.

    2. Easy now CC. We are talking about the Vikings here, never get your hopes too high. Let’s wait for some contracts to be signed before we get too wound up.

      1. I know Johnny, we probably won’t get any of those guys…and now the beer is gone.
        Life as a Viking fan…

        1. Well we have a contract signing. Vikes signed Griffen to a 5 year deal. I would have to think that the price of Michael Johnson was getting way to expensive.

  20. I read that this was a “huge” deal. It will be interesting to see what the numbers will be.

    1. This is good…Griffen is a damn good player. A very athletic big dude. That probably ends the Johnson deal.

      1. Yeah I would say that would be a fair assumption. He is a good player and I think Zimmer will get even more out of him. I am sure he was cheaper than Johnson. I hope they use that savings and get a top corner now.