Cassel could open, close doors for Vick

PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Cassel reportedly is opting out of his contract with the Minnesota Vikings, which could directly affect Michael Vick’s situation.

Cassel, 31, will be another veteran quarterback on the free-agent market. But his departure from Minnesota also creates another opening. Christian Ponder will be the only quarterback the Vikings have under contract.

With a new head coach, Mike Zimmer, and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, the Vikings are strong candidates to take a quarterback high in the 2014 draft. But sitting at No. 8 in the first round puts them at the mercy of seven other teams. So it would be smart for the Vikings to add a veteran quarterback they have confidence in.

Could that be the 33-year-old Vick? He seems an unlikely pairing with Turner, whose history is almost exclusively with traditional pocket quarterbacks like Troy Aikman, Philip Rivers and Gus Frerotte. But Zimmer, a longtime defensive coordinator getting his shot as a head coach, may want a mobile quarterback. He also may want to win right away, while Adrian Peterson is still an elite back. Those X factors could make Vick a candidate in Minnesota.

As for Cassel, he has a history with new Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien. Cassel and O’Brien were with the Patriots at the same time. O’Brien could be looking for a veteran to play ahead of a rookie if Houston takes a quarterback with the first pick in the draft.

Cassel also has a history with Bill Musgrave, the Eagles’ new quarterbacks coach. Musgrave was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota this past season, when Cassel riddled the Eagles' defense in a 48-30 Vikings win.

“I thought Cassel played a really good game,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said the day after that game. “You go back and watch the tape, and I thought he put the ball in some tight coverage sometimes and in perfect situations. … He was decisive. He ripped it, and put the ball on the money.”

Kelly’s unusually effusive praise for Cassel rang a bell the day he hired Musgrave, and it rings the same bell now. If Kelly is looking for a veteran to slot between Nick Foles and Matt Barkley on the depth chart, Cassel would be an interesting possibility.

Of course, Cassel probably wouldn’t have opted out of a contract that would have paid him $3.7 million for 2014 if he didn’t expect to land a starting job. That’s Vick’s hope, too. They will both be vying for the same precious few opportunities. But Cassel’s biggest impact on Vick could be claiming his fallback position, with the Eagles.