There is a rumor circling around the NFL about where former Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel’s next stop may be. While many were shocked that the much-maligned signal-caller voided his contract with the Minnesota Vikings — losing out on the estimated $3.5 million he would have made as the primary backup in the Twin Cities — there has been no indication of what’s next for Cassel. A potential spot may be with the Oakland Raiders.
While the AFC West got much better last year — see the introduction of Peyton Manning in Denver, Alex Smith in Kansas City and the resurgence of Philip Rivers in San Diego — the Raiders have managed to hold down the bottom of the division for a long time. Many say that was due to the crazy — some would say idiotic — signings and deals made by the Raiders’ late owner, Al Davis. His mantra from the 60’s through the 90’s may have been “Just win baby,” but in reality, the way he ran the team in his final years was closer to “Just spend baby,” no matter the cost.
In fact, the elder Davis’ fiscal irresponsibility buried the Raiders so far in cap hell that the team is just now starting to see the light of day. Even though they have just north of $60 million in cap space this season, they still hold onto over $9 million in “dead money” debt, owing $6.2 million to Broncos safety Michael Huff and $2.6 million to free agent quarterback Matt Flynn.
The Raiders have drafted — or more accurately been slotted to draft — in one of the top 10 slots seven times in the last 10 years. That’s going back to the 2005 draft. In that time they’ve only taken a quarterback once with their first draft pick, arguably the biggest No. 1 overall bust of all time: JaMarcus Russell. Whether that made the Raiders gun shy or they just haven’t found “their guy” since then, is hard to determine. But, that’s why this rumor regarding Cassel to Oakland has a bit of credence behind it.
The Raiders played the quarterback-go-round game all last season. After trading with the Seattle Seahawks for Matt Flynn and drafting Tyler Wilson in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Terrelle Pryor started the season as the signal caller for the Raiders. However, his time in the spot light only lasted until Week 11 when undrafted rookie Matt McGloin stepped in and wowed the Raiders coaching staff in place of an injured Pryor. However, by the end of the season, everyone would know that game was beginner’s luck and there wasn’t much worth holding onto in McGloin.
With the Raiders drafting fifth this year, there’s a good chance they will take a quarterback in the first round. With Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr will all likely go in the first round. The only team drafting before the Raiders that isn’t in dire need of a QB is the St. Louis Rams at No. 2 overall, so the chance the Raiders can grab one of those four is pretty high. However, that leaves Oakland with a couple of options.
First, drafting a rookie quarterback without a seasoned veteran to back him up and guide him is a risky venture. Yes, I know that it can be done, but history has proven that it works better with a vet carrying the clipboard on the sideline, mentoring the young starter. Secondly, this is a boom-or-bust business and young rookies can be a flop just as much as they can win a Super Bowl. Not every rookie is Andrew Luck. There are a fair share of Blaine Gabberts and Christian Ponders out there.
The bottom line is, Cassel fits the Raiders’ needs to a “tee.” He can guide a young rookie if need be, or go out and play moderately well. He knows he’s likely going to be a backup wherever he goes, and even if the Raiders sign him for $4-$5 million a year, that’s more than he was making before. With a serious lack of quality free agent quarterbacks this year, he’s likely the best option for a team that truly needs him.
Sound off, Addicts. Would you like to see Cassel line up in silver and black across from Justin Houston and Tamba Hali this season? Let us know what you think.