When the trade between the Buffalo Bills and the Minnesota Vikings was made official by the NFL, lots of Bills fans had mixed emotions about the trade. In the offseason, GM Doug Whaley said he was going to go out and get a veteran quarterback to compete for the starting job, and that he did with Matt Cassel. Bills fans however, were rather upset with the trade, because they didn’t see Cassel as much of an upgrade over EJ Manuel.
The fact is, that Cassel has had success in the NFL with multiple teams, and has even made it to the playoffs with the Kansas City Chiefs. Cassel adds veteran leadership the Bills were in dire need of ever since Kyle Orton retired. There will most likely be a open competition between Cassel and Manuel come training camp.
Drafted in the 7th round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, Cassel was the backup to Tom Brady from 2005-2007. However, when Brady tore his ACL, in week one of the 2008 season, Cassel saw his first opportunity to start in the NFL, and took full advantage of it. In 15 starts, Cassel compiled 21 touchdowns compared to just 11 interceptions. He had a 63.4 completion percentage and passed for 3693 yards. Despite winning 11 games as the starter, Cassel and the Patriots would miss out on the playoffs.
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Following his four year stint with the Pats, Cassel would sign with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009, where he would spend the next four seasons. In 2010, Cassel had a career year, where he would throw for 27 touchdowns and seven interceptions, leading the Chiefs to a playoff berth. Cassel showed that he was more than just a game manager, that he could go out and single handily win games.
The last two years, Cassel was in Minnesota spending time as both the backup and starter. Unfortunately, he was forced to battle injury this past year, and was out for the majority of the season.
Cassel possesses ideal size to be a starting quarterback in the NFL, as he stands at 6’4” and 228 pounds. He has good vision down field, and gets rid of the ball quickly. Although his career completion percentage is just 59%, he is very accurate when it comes to short and intermediate throws. He doesn’t have the best speed, but Cassel can avoid pressure and throw accurately on the run.
What Cassel struggles with the most is his accuracy when throwing the ball down field. He is very inconsistent with the deep ball. Fortunately for Cassel, he won’t be required to throw the ball deep too much, as the Bills will be a run heavy team. Cassel also lacks mobility, so when pressured, he has troubles escaping the pocket.
Throughout his career, Cassel has been regarded as a pretty good game manager; however, that is all he will need to be in Buffalo. Yes, it’s been years since the Bills have had a franchise quarterback, but they may be fine with what they have this season. Despite having Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods, the Bills will be a run heavy team, with LeSean McCoy and Fred Jackson in the backfield. Cassel will be handing the ball off quite often, and most games won’t throw more than 25 passes.
It is yet to be seen if the Bills will bring in another quarterback or not, but as of now chances are that Matt Cassel will be your week one starter. Cassel will be battling with former first rounder EJ Manuel for the starting role in training camp. Buffalo will be going into another season without a franchise guy at quarterback, but with the team they are assembling, they should be able to win with Cassel. The Bills will continue to fill needs in free agency and through the draft in the hopes of making the playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons.
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