A Pioli-Cassel Marriage

The reaction to Matt Cassel’s new 6 year contract has been wide ranging.  From ESPN’s John Clayton seeing the Chiefs securing the quarterback position to Jason Whitlock giving credit for the deal to Randy Moss.  On the Chiefs beat in one Cassel10way or another since 1981, Bob Gretz says that Cassel and GM Scott Pioli are now forever 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.

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. I f 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.

I think most of the contracts handed out are excessive, but it’s all relative.  In a league that gives Matthew Stafford $40 million guaranteed before he throws a pass in the NFL, it doesn’t seem far off for the Chiefs to hand Matt Cassel a check for $28 million after going 11-5.  Sure, his contract is in the same ballpark as QBs that recently won a Super Bowl, but that by no way means Cassel has to win one for this to be the right move.  It isn’t a simple black and white situation, as much as fans want to see it that way.

Does Cassel need to be successful?  Of course.  And just as I pointed out earlier today, you always have to factor in championships when talking about a player’s impact on the game.  But nothing (besides the $28 million) is guaranteed in this league.  For me as long as Cassel is a leader on the field and brings the Chiefs to the playoffs more than not, this was a good move.  If he can’t cut it and by the end of year 3 he’s riding the pine the way Matt Lienart currently is in Arizona then, yes, Scott Pioli is going to have egg on his face.  But Pioli will be judged by much more than this one move.

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