Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel had until Friday to opt out of the second year of the two-year deal he signed in Minnesota last year. He opted not to push his decision to the deadline.
Per a league source, Cassel already has exercised his right to extinguish the final season of the contract.
And so, instead of making $3.7 million in Minnesota next year, the former Chiefs starter will become a free agent on March 11. It remains to be seen whether another team will give him a chance to compete for the starting job, or whether he’ll join a new franchise as the backup.
Cassel appeared in nine games last year, with six starts. He won three and lost three, but Cassel had key roles in the team’s only two other victories of the season, coming off the bench to engineer wins over Washington and Chicago.
The lingering New England connection could lure Cassel to Houston and former Pats assistant Bill O’Brien. With the Texans, Cassel could be paired with a first-round draft pick, mentoring the youngster and possibly playing until the rookie is ready.
Cassel also could end up being the backup to Matt Ryan in Atlanta, where the man who brought him to Kansas City (Scott Pioli) is now the assistant G.M.
Then there’s Tampa, where new defensive coordinator (and former Vikings coach) Leslie Frazier could vouch for Cassel to coach Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Jeff Tedford, neither of whom seem to be sold on Mike Glennon.
It’s also possible that Cassel returns to Minnesota with a contract that better reflects his potential role as a starter. But with the Vikings having a new coach and a new offensive coordinator, a second season becomes less likely.
The move leaves the Vikings with only one quarterback under contract for 2014: Christian Ponder. Which means that the Vikings will be adding multiple quarterbacks over the next three months.