They are now attached.
Scott Pioli and Matt Cassel are both married to attractive women. But when it comes to the world of football, these guys are now married, joined at the hip after Tuesday’s announcement of a six-year, $63 million contract for Cassel.
That’s right – a quarterback who has 15 career NFL starts … make that 15 starts in the last eight years of playing football on the pro and college level has agreed to a contract that will pay him on average $13.5 million over the next three seasons. Of the total money, reportedly $28 million is guaranteed.
Pioli told us that he thought highly of Cassel back in late February when he made the deal with the Patriots to get the quarterback.
Less than six months later, without having played a game, Pioli has signed Cassel to the largest contract in franchise history. Fifty seasons of Texans/Chiefs football and the biggest deal in history of the club goes to a player who hasn’t stepped on the field yet wearing the red and gold.
This is one of those deals where Pioli better be right. That’s why these two guys are now attached. If Cassel flops, this deal will drag Pioli into the deep water without a float. If Cassel leads the Chiefs to a championship, then they will both bask in the victory and the adulation.
There is no middle ground when it comes to the outcome of this contract. Cassel can be a good quarterback, but if he’s not leading this team to success in the playoffs, then Pioli has severely overpaid for his services. This will be a black or white outcome.
There’s simply no way Cassel has earned this type of NFL paycheck at this time.¬†His deal comes in at numbers that are just below the guys who have won Super Bowls recently, quarterbacks like his former teammate Tom Brady, Peyton Manning of the Colts and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger. As soon as the New York Giants and Eli Manning get done working out his new contract, Cassel’s deal will be just behind him as well.
Those are the quarterbacks of the last six Super Bowl winners. Cassel has never started a game in the playoffs, let alone led a team to a post-season victory or championship. Combine that, with his 15 starts and the circumstances of playing those games with the Patriots and for him to get this kind of money seems excessive.
Pioli obviously believes in the young man, because he’s now staked his future and his reputation on Cassel. There’s a lot of wiggle room for Pioli with the players he inherited; if they fail, he can blame the previous regime. That’s not the case with Cassel. Pioli has given up a second-round pick and a guaranteed $28 million of the Hunt money and that’s all based on his evaluation of the quarterback.
There are some sound foundations for what Pioli has done here. While Cassel is hardly an experienced NFL starter, it makes more sense investing $63 million and $28 million in guarantees with him than it does paying say rookie Mark Sanchez a five-year deal for around $50 million, with $28 million guaranteed. Sanchez may turn out to be the better quarterback, but there’s no evidence on tape to back that up right now. With Cassel, there are 15 game tapes from last season.
By making this move, Pioli is telling everyone that Cassel is a franchise-level quarterback and that’s something the Chiefs have not had for decades. He’s setting up his foundation for building this team on the quarterback position. There’s nothing wild or unusual with that move.
This was not a signing that had to happen right now. There was no deadline to beat, although it has been reported that if they had not reached a deal by 3 p.m. on Wednesday the Chiefs could not sign Cassel until next year. NFL sources say the July 15th date for franchise players did¬†not include Cassel because his franchise tender offer came from the Patriots, not the Chiefs.
Pioli took no chances with the different interpetations around the league on the rule, but it still didn’t require a contract to be done now. Cassel could have played the season at his $14.65 million franchise player tender offer that he got in New England and the Chiefs would not have lost his rights. He could have been franchised again for the 2010 season by the Chiefs, at 120 percent of his 2009 paycheck.
The Chiefs save money doing it this way, since back-to-back franchise years would have cost them $32.23 million, rather than the $28 million in guaranteed dollars that’s in the new deal.
The salary cap was not a factor, given the team had something in the neighborhood of $30 million available to them even with Cassel’s franchise tender offer on the books.
There’s only one reason for doing a deal right now. It’s making the statement that Matt Cassel is the club’s franchise quarterback.
And sink or swim, he’s now attached to Scott Pioli.
LEAGUE, PLAYERS HOLD NEGOTIATING SESSION
NFL negotiators sat down for close to three hours on Tuesday with the NFL Players Association at the union’s offices in Washington. Both sides reportedly said the meeting was a good one.
On Wednesday, NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and a group of players will visit Capitol Hill to talk with lawmakers about a potential owner’s lockout in the NFL in 2010. Smith plans to stress the economic facts that no football would not only hurt the highly paid players, but would hurt little guys like stadium workers who would be without paychecks.
“I’m not sure in a economic downturn whether a business that generated $8 billion in revenue last year should be contemplating” a lockout is what Smith told the Associated Press.
ADD ONE MORE FOR THE SUPPLEMENTAL DRAFT
On Monday, we highlighted the prospects that are available for the NFL’s Supplemental Draft on Thursday. Another one has turned up.
S Demetrice Morley was kicked off the Tennessee team back in April by new Vols head coach Lane Kiffin for various violations, including being late for practices and meetings, and blowing off other team commitments altogether.
Morley is out of Miami, and he’s 6-2, 195 pounds. He started 21 games at Tennessee in the 2006 and 2008 seasons, playing both free and strong safety. Morley did not play in 2007 because he was kicked off the Tennessee team because of academic problems. Also in ’07 he was arrested in Florida on robbery charges. Overall in three years of playing in Knoxville, Morley had 108 total tackles and five interceptions. He will be 22 years old next week.
SIGNINGS & MOVEMENT AROUND THE LEAGUE
BROWNS – signed fourth-round draft choice LB Kaluka Maiava and sixth-round CB Don Carey.
DOLPLHINS – signed fourth-round draft choice WR Brian Hartline.
JETS – signed TE Richard Owens.
PATRIOTS – signed sixth-round draft choice DL Myron Pryor.
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on July 15, 1963 in Portland, Oregon was DT Joe Phillips
(left). He joined the Chiefs in 1992 and spent six years with the team (1992-97), appearing in 91 games with 89 starts. He had 251 total tackles, 14 sacks, four recovered fumbles, two forced fumbles and one interception. Phillips also played in seven post-season games with the Chiefs, contributing 25 tackles and two sacks. He played 14 seasons in the NFL.
Born on July 15, 1938 in Lansing, Michigan was DT Paul Rochester. He was one of the original members of the Dallas Texans, joining the AFL out of Michigan State. Nicknamed “Cuddles” by his teammates, Rochester spent four seasons with the Texans-Chiefs (1960-63), appearing in 48 games. He played 10 seasons, all of them in the AFL.
Born on July 15, 1973 in Goleta, California was G Donald Willis (right). Nicknamed “Snacks” by his teammates, he spent four seasons with the Chiefs (2000-04), appearing in 59 games, with six starts.