Matt Cassel

Lions Sign QB Tom Savage

The Lions have signed free agent QB Tom Savage, per Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website (via Twitter).

Savage has had a tough go of it since entering the league as a fourth-round pick of the Texans in 2014. He served as a backup in his rookie campaign, missed all of 2015 with a shoulder injury, worked primarily as a backup to Brock Osweiler in 2016, and finally got his chance to start in 2017. But he made it through just the first half of the first game of the 2017 season, and he was benched at halftime in favor of Deshaun Watson, whom the team had drafted in the first round that year. He reentered the starting lineup when Watson went down with an ACL injury, but he ended up putting together a 1-6 record and a 71.4 quarterback rating.

Savage signed with the Saints last April but was cut before the start of the regular season, and he bounced on and off of the 49ers’ roster for several months. He finished out the 2018 campaign with the Bengals, who claimed him off waivers in November, but he did not see a regular season snap last year.

For his career, Savage has a 2-7 record and has thrown for five touchdowns against seven interceptions. With Detroit, he will compete to serve as Matthew Stafford‘s backup. The only other QB currently on the Lions’ roster is Connor Cook, though the club may select a passer in this month’s draft.

As Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com observes, the Savage signing means that the Lions will not be bringing back last year’s No. 2 signal-caller, Matt Cassel.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Blount, Lions, Rudock

When LeGarette Blount starts the 2018 season with the Lions, it will be his third team in as many years. Blount has won the past two Super Bowls, first with the Patriots then with the Eagles. Blount rushed 766 yards and two touchdowns last season in Philadelphia, but wasn’t offered a contract by the team after the season.

When asked if he carried a grudge due to the snub, Blount replied “I’m past that”, according to Matt Lombardo of NJ.com. Blount emphasized that he’s looking forward to playing for the Lions and coach Matt Patricia, saying “fortunately, it worked out for me to wind up here with somebody that I’m familiar with, and like a lot.” Although the move means Blount is unlikely to win a third straight Super Bowl, it doesn’t sound like he’s losing too much sleep over the divorce.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

 

NFC Notes: Donald, Giants, Cash, Lions

The Aaron Donald saga may finally be nearing a conclusion. Rams GM Les Snead indicated earlier this week that team and player were progressing towards a new deal, and head coach Sean McVay echoed those sentiments last night. Per Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic (Twitter link), McVay said, “there’s increased dialogue. There’s more…we feel positive about the direction that these things are going. I think there’s a level of urgency that’s being displayed from us.” That probably sounds like music to the ears of Rams fans, who have legitimate championship dreams this season.

Now let’s take a quick look at a few more notes from the NFC:

  • Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com tweets that Giants quarterback Kyle Lauletta is getting reps with the second team today, which is the first time Dunleavy can recall that happening. 2017 third-rounder Davis Webb was said to have a big lead on Lauletta for Big Blue’s backup job coming out of minicamp, but this could be a sign that Lauletta, a 2018 fourth-round pick, is closing the gap. Webb, of course, was selected by New York’s prior regime, while Lauletta has the benefit of being chosen by the team’s new crop of decision-makers.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (via Twitter) that Cardinals LB Jeremy Cash sustained a knee injury during last night’s preseason game that is believed to be season-ending. That is a tough blow for the Duke product, who has bounced around a few different teams since entering the league but who had a real chance of cracking Arizona’s 53-man roster this season. The Cardinals claimed him off waivers in March.
  • Good news for 49ers fans, as right guard Joshua Garnett has returned to practice after missing two weeks to deal with his right knee issue, per Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group (via Twitter). Matt Barrows of The Athletic tweets that Garnett’s primary competitor for San Francisco’s right guard job, Jonathan Cooper, is also on hand, so perhaps the competition can finally begin in earnest. This comes just a week after a report that the 49ers were growing increasingly concerned about Garnett’s knee problems.
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press offers his take on the prospects of a few different Lions after the team’s first preseason game several nights ago. He says it is only a matter of time before rookie Kerryon Johnson becomes Detroit’s starting tailback, though Ameer Abdullah also looked good and was the first man up on kick and punt returns. Birkett adds that Jake Rudock‘s rough night, combined with Matt Cassel‘s ties to head coach Matt Patricia, have increased Cassel’s chances of opening the season as the club’s backup QB.
  • The Bears signed running back/return specialist Knile Davis earlier today.

This Date In Transactions History: Chiefs Extend Matt Cassel

In the 30 years prior to their Patrick Mahomes first-round pick, the Chiefs did not entrust their offenses to homegrown investments too often.

Once 1983 first-rounder Todd Blackledge did not pan out, this franchise proceeded to acquire a slew of veteran quarterbacks via trade or free agency and hoped one of those offseason additions could elevate the team to a long-sought-after Super Bowl return. Steve DeBerg, Dave Krieg, Joe Montana, Steve Bono, Elvis Grbac and Rich Gannon all played key roles in piloting Chiefs teams to the playoffs during their successful 1990s run. Alex Smith helped deliver the most consistency since those years, leading Kansas City to four postseasons in five seasons, and Trent Green was at the controls of an explosive offense in K.C.’s run to the 2003 No. 2 seed.

But a key choice in Chiefs history came to fruition on this date nine years ago. In addition to being the key date on the Con Air timeline, July 14 proved to be a pivotal day for Matt Cassel. The Chiefs traded for Cassel in March of 2009 and signed him to a six-year, $63MM contract just prior to training camp that year.

This proved to be a windfall for the former Patriots backup. He received $28MM guaranteed and saw $40.5MM in that deal’s first three years. Cassel took over for Tom Brady after he suffered a season-ending injury against the Chiefs in Week 1 of the 2008 season. Completing a career-high 63.4 percent of his passes, Cassel guided the Patriots to an 11-win season. The Patriots used a $14.65MM franchise tag on Cassel but shipped him to the Chiefs, along with Mike Vrabel, for 2009’s No. 34 overall pick. (New England used that selection to draft Patrick Chung, who’s started at safety in each of the Pats’ past three Super Bowl appearances.)

In Kansas City, Cassel could not establish himself as a viable long-term solution. Though, the franchise was patient with Cassel at this decade’s outset, giving him 47 starts.

Cassel started four seasons for the Chiefs, but only one of those went well for him. He threw 27 touchdown passes compared to just seven interceptions in 2010 to lead the Chiefs to a surprising AFC West title, but he only started 17 games combined the next two seasons. Injuries and an eventual demotion limited Cassel’s playing time during the Chiefs’ final two Scott Pioli seasons, with a low point coming in Oct. 2012 when a sect of Chiefs fans cheered when the then-starter went down with an injury.

The Chiefs hired Andy Reid and John Dorsey following a disastrous 2-14 season in 2012, and they moved swiftly to add Smith. A day after Smith’s introductory press conference, the Chiefs cut Cassel. However, the Vikings immediately added the veteran as Christian Ponder‘s backup.

Cassel’s been able to land work consistently since. He started six games for the Vikes in 2013 and opened the 2014 season as Teddy Bridgewater‘s stopgap. Cassel was unable to beat out Tyrod Taylor for the Bills’ job in 2015, but he ended up starting seven games during Tony Romo‘s absence that year. He’s since been Marcus Mariota‘s backup and is now at age 36 in position to serve as Matthew Stafford‘s. Interestingly, Vrabel’s Titans decided to cut Cassel this offseason despite the duo’s history as teammates.

But Cassel’s most memorable NFL stay occurred in Kansas City, and he was paid handsomely in an attempt to revive a then-struggling franchise.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Matt Cassel

When the Patriots drafted Matt Cassel in the seventh round of the 2005 draft, nobody would’ve guessed that Cassel would go on to have a lengthy and significant NFL career. Cassel never started a game in college, he was a backup all four years at USC, but landed himself on NFL teams’ radars with a strong Pro Day performance. On this day 13 years ago, Cassel signed his rookie contract with the Patriots. 

It was a surprise when Cassel even made the Patriots’ initial 53-man roster in 2005, and even more of a shock that he continued to stick around. Eventually he worked his way from third string into being Tom Brady‘s primary backup. Cassel would entrench himself in NFL and Patriots history when Brady went down with a torn ACL in the first game of the 2008 season. Cassel stepped in and ended up starting the next 15 games for New England.

He led the Patriots to an 11-5 record while throwing for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Although the Patriots became the first team since the NFL switched to their current playoff format to go 11-5 and not make the playoffs, it was an incredible season for Cassell. Just a couple months earlier beat writers had been predicting he would be cut from the team.

At the end of the year, the Patriots franchised tagged him and ended up trading him to the Chiefs for an early second round pick. Cassel would go on to make the Pro Bowl with the Chiefs in 2010, but flamed out soon after that and has bounced around the league as a backup ever since. He’s spent time with the Chiefs, Vikings, Bills, Cowboys, and Titans since his magical season in New England. This past April, he signed a one-year deal with the Lions.

The seventh round pick who hadn’t started a game in high school somehow saw himself quarterbacking the Patriots to an 11-5 record and earned himself a spot in the NFL for the next decade. It was a great pick by the Patriots, who ended up getting a season of stellar quarterback play and a second round pick for the 230th pick in the 2005 draft. And it all started on this day, 13 years ago.

Contract Details: Lions, Cassel, Titans

Contract

  • Matt Cassel‘s deal with the Lions is for the veteran’s minimum with $350K in guarantees, according to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News (on Twitter). So, even though there are guarantees, it’s not enough to suggest that the team is moving on from backup Jake Rudock. Rudock has a $630K salary with no guarantees, but they could conceivably roll with him over Cassel if he looks better this summer.
  • Bennie Logan‘s one-year deal with the Titans has $3.75MM guaranteed, Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star tweets. As previously reported, Logan can earn up to $5MM through incentives.
  • Tackle Ben Ijalana‘s one-year deal with Jets is worth $2.5MM, Rich Cimini of ESPN tweets. The total guarantee is $500K, via his signing bonus. Ijalana does not project to start for the Jets, but the team clearly values him more than the average backup.

Lions Agree To Sign Matt Cassel

Matt Cassel will join a seventh NFL team, reaching an agreement to sign with the Lions, Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com report ( Twitter link).

The Bob Quinn– and Matt Patricia-run team will bring in a veteran to work behind Matthew Stafford. Both were with the Patriots when Cassel worked behind Tom Brady during the 2000s.

Released by the Titans last month, Cassel is entering his age-36 season. He has not been a regular starter since his days with the Chiefs. But he did make several starts with the Vikings and Cowboys before becoming Marcus Mariota‘s backup and serving in that role the past two years.

The Lions have 2016 sixth-round pick Jake Rudock on their roster. Rudock was drawing trade interest last year and has worked behind Stafford over the past two years. Cassel is going into his 14th NFL season. He’s made 81 starts, with his teams going 36-45 in those, and is a career 59 percent passer with 104 touchdown tosses and 81 interceptions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Cut QB Matt Cassel, WR Eric Weems

The Titans are making moves this week. Quarterback Matt Cassel and wide receiver Eric Weems have been released, according to a press release from the team. They join running back DeMarco Murray and safety Da’Norris Searcy as recent Titans cap casualties. 

Cassell spent two years with the Titans as a backup to Marcus Mariota. He played sparingly and amassed a stat line of 446 yards with three touchdowns against four interceptions with a 59% completion rate. By cutting Cassel, the Titans will clear his entire $2.5MM cap hit from the books.

The release of Weems will free up $1.35MM for the Titans. Weems, 33 in July, was an expected cut this offseason. He served primarily as a deep reserve in 2017 with the occasional appearance on special teams.

Between all four cuts, the Titans have saved approximately $13MM heading into free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Barrett, Cassel, Browns, Texans

Shaquil Barrett won’t be participating in any further Broncos offseason workouts after suffering a hip injury away from the team’s facility recently, but the outside linebacker won’t need surgery, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter). The third-year outside linebacker contributor will still be out “a while,” per Klis, who notes (via Twitter) this injury could keep him out of some training camp time. Barrett is expected to be the Broncos’ No. 3 outside ‘backer behind Von Miller and Shane Ray, with the group thinning out after DeMarcus Ware‘s retirement. The Broncos signed Kasim Edebali after the Saints didn’t extend him an RFA tender this offseason but didn’t further address the position. A lengthy Barrett absence could lead the team to explore potential edge defenders in free agency.

Here’s the latest from the AFC.

  • The Titans have a slightly more prominent player in the same boat, with Matt Cassel expected to be out six weeks after injuring his throwing thumb, Jim Wyatt of Titans.com tweets. The 13th-year veteran will have surgery on the thumb, according to Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. Cassel is signed for another year as Marcus Mariota‘s backup. This timetable puts him in line to be able to rejoin the team come training camp, per Mike Mularkey. Alex Tanney resides as Tennessee’s third-stringer.
  • Isaiah Crowell addressed his contract situation from Browns OTAs, saying “both sides are trying to get something done,” Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal tweets. Crowell reported late to Cleveland’s voluntary workouts. He signed his RFA second-round tender earlier this month and is entering a contract year. The 24-year-old managed to gain nearly 1,000 yards last season despite being a 1-15 team’s primary running back. After the Browns beefed up their line this offseason, Crowell is in better position to play well in a possible audition season for other teams, should the sides be unable to get a deal done before this season. The Browns have $57MM in cap space and signed Christian Kirksey to an extension earlier this week.
  • Corey Coleman will be held out of remaining Browns offseason practices after the second-year wideout fell on the ball while making a catch last week, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. Hue Jackson steadfastly denied Coleman broke a bone during the tumble, but it looks like the 2016 first-rounder won’t re-emerge on the practice field until camp. Coleman missed six games last season because of a broken hand.
  • Duane Brown is again a no-show as the Texans continue their voluntary workouts, and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle confirms (Twitter link) this absence is contract-related. The Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson reported last week the longtime left tackle wants a new contract and is staying away for the time being. McClain wonders if the 31-year-old Brown will show for mandatory minicamp next month. Two years remain on Brown’s six-year, $53.4MM extension. He has non-guaranteed base salaries of $9.65MM and $9.75MM on tap for 2017 and ’18.

Titans Re-Sign QB Matt Cassel

Matt Cassel will stay on board as Marcus Mariota‘s backup. The Titans announced that they have agreed to terms with the quarterback on an extension. It’s a two-year deal, according to Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com (on Twitter). He’ll get $5.25MM with $2.75MM in 2017, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Matt Cassel (vertical)

[RELATED: Titans GM Discusses Offseason, Draft, Free Agency]

Cassel was called on to start late last season when Mariota went down with a fractured fibula. In four games, the veteran completed 30-of-51 passes for 284 yards, with two touchdowns against two interceptions.

Cassel could be asked to lead the first team offense in practice this summer if Mariota is slow to recover, but the early word is that the youngster is doing just fine.

I feel pretty good about it,’’ coach Mike Mularkey said of Mariota’s timetable. “You have to trust the doctor’s words, and if you know Marcus like we do, we believe with the way he goes about his business he’ll be prepared. He is not going to overdo it, he has been told to be careful, and be smart about it. Our No.1 goal is to make sure he is under center when we open up opening day. I am not going to put a timeframe on when that first practice or when that first (OTA) will be. I can’t do that because every player is different in how they recover, and it’s difficult to do.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.