Source: Cassel to Vikes, has chance to start

Matt Cassel wasn’t out of work long after being released by the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday as the quarterback has agreed to a contract with the Minnesota Vikings, a source confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Cassel will compete for the starting job with incumbent starter Christian Ponder, the source said.

Fox Sports earlier reported Cassel’s addition to the Vikings.

Cassel was released by the Chiefs one day after Alex Smith was introduced as Kansas City’s new starting quarterback.

Cassel was the first major acquisition by the Chiefs under previous general manager Scott Pioli, and he was quickly given a six-year, $63 million contract. But after leading the Chiefs to the playoffs in 2010, Cassel struggled to live up to the same expectations.

He sustained a season-ending hand injury two years ago, and then lost his job to Brady Quinn after sustaining a concussion last season, spending the rest of the year as the backup.

The Chiefs had been trying to trade Cassel for a late-round draft pick but, having found no suitors, decided to release him and carve out additional space under the salary cap.

He would have made a base salary of $7.5 million this season.

Cassel started 47 of the 48 games he played for the Chiefs, throwing for 9,549 yards with 59 touchdowns and 44 interceptions. His best season came three years ago, when he threw for 3,116 yards and 27 touchdowns with only seven interceptions, and led the Chiefs to the playoffs.

He seemed to be validating the deal made by Pioli to acquire him from New England.

Then everything began to unravel.

He went 4-5 as a starter in 2011 before hurting his throwing hand late in the season and landing on injured reserve. During the offseason, when he appeared in a celebrity softball game as part of All-Star Game festivities at Kauffman Stadium, he was booed lustily by the crowd.

The Chiefs fired coach Todd Haley and appointed Romeo Crennel his successor, and Crennel stuck with Cassel last season. But he went just 1-7 in eight games under center, and some fans at Arrowhead Stadium cheered when he sustained a head injury in a loss to Baltimore.

Cassel briefly lost his job to Quinn, regained it when Quinn got hurt, and then lost it permanently when he struggled in a loss to Cincinnati midway through the season.

He took the benching with grace, though, and remained a leader in the locker room.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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Aaron is an avid sports fan who passionately follows the NFL, NBA and MLB, in addition to NCAA Sports. He is an Arizona State University grad who loves the Dodgers and the Patriots.
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