The biggest decision the Vikings make in the upcoming offseason may not be entirely in the hands of general manager Rick Spielman.
Spielman, if he indeed does return as GM, will get to pick out a quarterback in the NFL draft, but unless he starts that quarterback week one of 2014, he'll need to have another quarterback ready to go. If he wants that quarterback to be Matt Cassel... well, he better hope Cassel accepts his $3.7 million player option.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings, who caught a career-high 11 passes from Cassel last week against the Eagles, would love to see Cassel back next season.
“I would love to see Matt back,” Jennings told the Star Tribune. “He’s a great guy. He’s a great leader. He has a great feel for the locker room. I think guys rally behind him.”
Vikings legendary quarterback Fran Tarkenton writes in weekly column for the Pioneer Press that the Vikings should draft a quarterback and allow him to learn as Cassel's backup.
And with Cassel's performance, you don't hear anybody clamoring for Ponder or Josh Freeman anymore. I don't have any inside scoop in the front office, but my sense is the team has seen enough of them and we won't see either of them on the field in purple again.
Now, do a few good games mean the Vikings no longer need to worry about drafting a quarterback? Absolutely not. But Cassel is giving the team the best chance to win right now. This roster can win with him playing quarterback while they find and develop the right young quarterback.
Cassel will start this week against the Bengals, and barring injury, he will likely get the nod again in the week 17 finale against the Lions. It will finally allow the Vikings to see what Cassel can do as the starter on a consistent basis.
Head coach Leslie Frazier said during his press conference on Wednesday that he hasn't enjoyed switching quarterbacks as much as the Vikings have, "but we're counting on Matt having success and playing again the next week and leading us to victory the next couple of weeks. But right now, our focus is on this Cincinnati game. That's the most important one to our team."
When the season is over the Vikings will look back at the schedule and notice that juggling act didn't do them any favors.
- Week 1: 34-31 loss at Detroit – Ponder
- Week 2: 31-30 loss at Chicago – Ponder
- Week 3: 31-27 loss vs Cleveland – Ponder
- Week 4: 34-27 win vs Pittsburgh – Cassel
- Week 5: Bye
- Week 6: 35-10 loss vs Carolina – Cassel
- Week 7: 23-7 loss at New York – Josh Freeman
- Week 8: 44-31 loss vs Green Bay – Ponder
- Week 9: 27-23 loss at Dallas – Ponder
- Week 10: 34-27 win vs Washington – Ponder
- Week 11: 41-20 loss at Seattle – Ponder
- Week 12: 26-26 tie at Green Bay – Ponder
- Week 13: 23-20 win vs Chicago – Ponder started the game, Cassel finished it
- Week 14: 29-26 loss at Baltimore – Cassel
- Week 15: 48-30 win vs Philadelphia – Cassel
- Week 16: at Cincinnati – Cassel will start
- Week 17: vs Detroit – Cassel expected to start