Quarterback Matt Cassel and guard Brandon Fusco both received new deals from the Vikings this offseason, with Cassel inking a two-year pact to avoid free agency while Fusco agreed to a four-year extension. However, just three weeks into the 2014 season, both players are done for the year. The team announced today in a press release that it has placed Cassel and Fusco on season-ending injured reserve.
Taking Cassel’s and Fusco’s spots on the roster are a pair of practice squad players, in tight end Chase Ford and offensive lineman Austin Wentworth. Their promotions opened up two new spots on the practice squad, which have been filled by quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and tight end Ryan Otten.
Cassel, who suffered a broken foot in the Vikings’ Week 3 loss to the Saints, will be replaced under center by rookie Teddy Bridgewater, while Christian Ponder transitions from the league’s most notable No. 3 signal-caller to Bridgewater’s backup. Although Cassel is under contract for two years, it’s extremely difficult to imagine him returning to a starting role in Minnesota at any point, unless Bridgewater struggles mightily during his rookie year. With Ponder facing free agency in 2015, perhaps the club decides to bring Cassel back as its No. 2 option in 2015, but given his $4.15MM base salary, he may have played his last game in Minnesota.
The Vikings have yet to use their IR spot with the designation to return, so the fact that neither Cassel nor Fusco – who sustained a shoulder injury – received that designation seems to suggest the team doesn’t believe either player will be healthy enough to return this season.