When Tom Brady went down with a season-ending injury in the opener of the 2008 season, a 2005 seventh round pick stepped into his big shoes and led the Patriots to an 11-5 season without him. Since then, Matt Cassel has been a household name around the NFL.
In part because of that season, but also in big part because of the six-year, $62.7 million contract it got him from the Kansas City Chiefs the following season.
But here we are, just three years later and Matt Cassel is said to be on thin ice in regards to being the franchise quarterback for the Chiefs for the foreseeable future.
After a tough debut season in 2009, he hit his stride in 2010 with a 3,000 plus yard passing season that saw him throw for 27 touchdowns. But 2011, a year riddled with injuries to the roster, saw Cassel struggle often before succumbing to season-ending injury himself after just 9 games.
When Kansas City came up as teams possibly interested in Peyton Manning in the offseason, many wondered if the Chiefs were ready to cut ties with Cassel. Would the team really be looking at other options for a guy who was only one season removed from a pro bowl year?
Fans seems to be mixed on Cassel. Some realize just how tough it is to find a quarterback is is just above serviceable in this league. Others, feel that Matt is over paid and overrated. This is just about any teams fan base when it comes to discussing the quarterback position. But it might be debatable in this scenario.
I hear a lot of this same talk in Houston in regards to Matt Schaub. The question I always have to ask is an easy one; is he good enough to win a championship with? In Kansas City’s case, I’m not so sure. I like where they could go with Romeo Crennel at the helm now, as young players love the guy and would run through a brick wall for him. But Crennel showed in Cleveland, that quarterback decisions might not be his forte.
Romeo has made it clear that while there will be competition, Matt Cassel is his starter. Which doesn’t really mean much, because he will be competing against the likes of Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi. Let’s be real, neither of those guys have a legitimate shot at knocking each other off in an open competition, much less outplaying Cassel. His inconsistency is something that has made Chiefs fans rip their hair out for a few years now. But most importantly, keep an eye on his contract situation.
Cassel is under team control for another three year’s and his salary next season will only be $5.25 million. But why I really think this could be a make or break season for him is because his contract is backloaded at $7.5 million in 2013 and $9 million in 2014. That’s some serious coin for an “average” to “above average” quarterback.
I’m willing to give Cassel a mulligan for last season. It was a bad break on the injury front and there was little he could do playing through injuries and losing his running back. But he needs to have another 2010 if he is going to justify the Chiefs shelling out the final $16.5 million of their original deal. In fact, he’ll probably need to surpass it.