Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli needs to get on the phone with the Tennessee Titans to find out what it would cost to pry away QB Matt Hasselbeck.
Various sources are reporting that second year QB Jake Locker has beaten out veteran Hasselbeck to be the starter in Tennessee. The Titans are moving forward into a new era and Hasselbeck is the odd man out.
But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t still have value in the NFL.
This isn’t an indictment on Chiefs QB Matt Cassel. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the way Cassel has played so far in the preseason under Brian Daboll. He is going through his reads, he looks comfortable and he is almost always making the right decision with the football. Most of all, he is moving the offense and scoring points, a feat we haven’t seen from a Chiefs offense in the preseason since the Clinton administration.
No, my belief that the Chiefs should be interested in Hasselbeck is based squarely on the Chiefs’ backup QB situation.
I’m not impressed by Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi. To me, Quinn looks like a third-string QB and Stanzi doesn’t even look like he belongs in the NFL.
I know this view isn’t entirely fair to Stanzi. The kid had no offseason as a rookie. What time he did get to practice was shortened thanks to the overall lack of reps that were available for a third-string QB in a compressed, shortened training camp. Throw on top of that Todd Haley’s hair-brained preseason strategy and a new offensive coordinator in 2012 and it is no wonder Stanzi looks like the second coming of Tyler Palko.
But I’m not concerned about the development of Ricky Stanzi.
I’m concerned about what will happen to this very talented Chiefs team should they suddenly find themselves without the services of Matt Cassel.
Matt Hasselbeck is the perfect backup for the Chiefs. Hasselbeck is Matt Cassel with 14 years of NFL experience. He will never carry a team on his own but he has shown he can be productive as long as the pieces around him are solid.
Just look at his numbers.
Career Passer Rating:
Hasselbeck: 1.4 to 1
Cassel: 1.7 to 1
Both QBs have had seasons where they looked like Pro Bowlers and both have had seasons where they looked like backups.
In 2007, Hasselbeck had perhaps his best season, throwing for 3,966 yards and 28 TDs vs. 12 interceptions. Those numbers look a lot similar to Cassel’s 2010 season in which he threw for 3,116 yards and 27 TDs vs. 7 interceptions. There is a discrepancy in yards but Hasselbeck attempted 562 passes compared to just 450 from Cassel. The next season, Hasselbeck played in only seven games and completed just 52.2 percent of his passes and he had a 1:2 TD to interception ratio.
These guys, Cassel and Hasselbeck, are cut from the same cloth.
Brian Daboll’s offense is designed for guys like Cassel, Hasselbeck and Matt Moore to succeed.Look, not every QB is Tom Brady but the ones that aren’t aren’t necessarily Jamarcus Russel.
After watching Daboll’s offense, I am convinced that the Chiefs have enough talent to win playoff games with Cassel at the helm. I was not convinced of this last season but Cassel and Daboll have changed my mind. How far they can go, I don’t know.
What I do know is that Cassel is the team’s best and only option right now.
Trading for Hasselbeck is a smart business decision for Pioli. The Titans will likely want to dump the veteran so that their new QB can operate without a more accomplished signal caller looking over his shoulder. In KC, there is no question that this is Cassel’s team, at least for now. Hasselbeck would provide the kind of security blanket that could keep the Chiefs in contention even if Cassel should go down.
Hasselbeck is 36. He isn’t likely to be handed another starting job in the NFL and 2012 very well could be his last season as a pro. He is more accurate and experienced than Brady Quinn and could also be an excellent mentor for Ricky Stanzi, should the Chiefs decide to keep him.
As far as for what the Chiefs would have to give up to get Hasselbeck, it likely wouldn’t be much. I’d think a seventh round draft pick would get the job done and truthfully, the Titans will be lucky to get that. Given Hasselbeck’s advanced age, it is unlikely many teams will want to give up any draft picks for him. The hope will likely be that he’ll be cut, at which point a team could try to swoop in and get him for free.
As far as I can tell, Hasselbeck is due $5.5 million this season and $5.5 million next season. The Chiefs allowed Kyle Orton to leave and sign with the Cowboys for a three-year, $10.5 million dollar contract. Orton received a $5 million dollar signing bonus from the Cowboys.
Looking at those numbers, I find it hard to believe Scott Pioli would pay the full $5.5 million for Hasselbeck, though he might be able to work out some sort of split with the Titans.
The Chiefs certainly have the money to pay Hasselbeck if they want to and since bringing him on would mean they’d either be dumping Quinn ($1.5 million) or Stanzi ($465,000), they’d be trimming things up a bit.
After seeing the way the KC backups have played, Hasselbeck may well be worth the investment, at least for this season. I could care less about the Chiefs giving up a seventh round pick for a chance at security at the QB position for a season or two. Let’s be honest, that is more than they will likely ever get out of whomever they draft in the seventh round next offseason.
The Chiefs saw what happened when they didn’t have adequate backups in 2011. Had Kyle Orton been on the roster the entire season, the Chiefs would likely be going for their third-straight AFC West Championship in 2012.
What do you think, Addicts? Is Hasselbeck worth a seventh rounder and some case? Or are you comfortable going into the season with Quinn and “Hobo-hair” Ricky?