Around The Web: Reaction To Cassel’s Deal From Gannon, Clayton and Whitlock

Now that the Chiefs have officially signed Matt Cassel to a long term contract, it’s time for the sports world to react.  Former Chiefs quarterback and current TV analyst Rich Gannon thinks it’s important the franchise can now have one guy instead of someone different every couple of years, similar to what he was able to do for Oakland after leaving Kansas City.

“It wasn’t so much the money.  It was more that it was finally my football team.  I was able to stand up and speak out loud and take control of a team.  That’s really critical.  It has to be your team.  You can’t have two guys going back and forth, and that’s what the Chiefs have had.  That’s really what has held that team back.”

Gannon said he saw all he needed from Cassel last year when the youngster filled in for Brady, doing it with the poise of a longtime starter.  Gannon said he wouldn’t have been surprised if Cassel had wilted under the pressure of being Brady’s fill-in on a team with yearly Super Bowl expectations, but Cassel just kept on rolling.

“You’re looking at a guy who’s young, who has proven just in one year of play that he is very capable.”

Gannon admitted that Pioli and the Chiefs are gambling, but Gannon said Kansas City made the right play.

“It’s smart.  You have to go out there and get your franchise quarterback.  It might be premature to start calling Matt Cassel a franchise quarterback.  But it’s one of the critical pieces of the puzzle.”

There have been a lot of comparisons made to the Gannon/Grbac debate when talking about Cassel/Thigpen.  But in this case — the money aside — the Chiefs will give Cassel a chance to be the franchise quarterback they’ve been looking for all the while knowing there is a more than capable guy playing behind him in Thigpen.  If the Chiefs had traded and signed Cassel while letting Thigpen walk via free agency — like they did with Gannon — then there would be even more people crying foul for pushing Thigpen away.  Right now I would say roughly 80% of the emails I get are either positive or at least “he’s our guy now” supportive.  There definitely is a loud 20% though that wanted — and still wants — Thigpen to be the Chiefs starting quarterback.  I wonder if starting today with his new contract if some of the minority come over to Cassel’s side.

ESPN’s John Clayton thinks the Chiefs finally found their long term answer at QB.  Along with the security the Cassel deal gives to Kansas City at the most important position on the field, Clayton says Pioli had to find “the right number” for Cassel.

Since arriving from New England himself, Pioli is trying to establish organization policy in Kansas City.  In New England, Bill Belichick and Pioli established a system in which the players — even the best players — didn’t get top dollar.  They were paid fairly, but the Patriots wanted to make sure that they can afford to keep quality players on the team.  They needed cap room to do that.

Cassel was in a leverage position on a one-year deal to command more than the six-year, $63 million pact he agreed to with the Chiefs.  With another season comparable to his 2008 breakout performance, Cassel could have commanded more next winter in free agency.  Clearly, he wants to be in Kansas City.  Pioli held firm in trying to get the average salary number around $10 million a year.  He was successful.

Cassel now ranks in the middle of the pack as far as starting quarterback average salaries go.  That’s fair.  He’s only started one season.

Phillip Rivers and Eli Manning are in the final years of their contracts.  If they get long-term deals, the price of signing quarterbacks goes that much higher.  The time was right to do a deal.  This was an important negotiation for the team and the Chiefs did well.

I think it’s fair to say that both the team and Cassel did well.  Sure, if he would have played out the one year deal and had a monster season then Cassel could have held the Chiefs up for an even bigger contract.  But lets remember this is a guy that made $500k last season and has never had job or financial security.  He now gets both of those things for at least the next few years.  Even if things don’t work out in Kansas City, Cassel walks away with $28 million.  Not too shabby for a guy that before last season hadn’t started an organized football game since high school.

And finally there is the morning reaction from Jason Whitlock of the Kansas City Star.  If you thought his column on the Cassel deal would actually be about Matt Cassel then you would have been terribly wrong.  The real reason for the quarterback’s $63 million dollar contract is none other than Randy Moss.

Matt Cassel’s new contract makes me appreciate Randy Moss, arguably the greatest football player of our lifetime.  Check that.  Moss might be the most influential football player of any lifetime.  You could argue he’s better than Jim Brown, John Elway, Reggie White, Lawrence Taylor, Jerry Rice and Joe Montana.

I know.  No one likes Randy Moss.  He’s aloof and lazy.  He plays with a swagger that comes off as disrespect.  He’s never won a Super Bowl.  None of that justifies overlooking or minimizing his impact.

Matt Cassel, a backup at Southern California for five years, a backup in the NFL for four years, just cashed in for $60 million thanks to Randy Moss.  Cassel joins a crew of well-known quarterbacks who have had their profiles (and sometimes bank accounts) elevated thanks to the most talented wide receiver to ever play the game.

After just one season of playing alongside Moss in New England, Cassel went from unheralded scrub to a man with a six-year contract worth $60 million-plus, which includes $28 million in guaranteed cash and $40 million over the first three years.

I’m not going to bag on Cassel.  I honestly don’t have a clue whether he’s worth the money.  I do know he was the one quarterback in this whole group who regularly struggled locating Moss with the long ball.  But, again, this column isn’t really about Cassel and whether he’s the right long-term move for the Chiefs.  We’ll find that out over the next couple of years.

This column is about Randy Moss.  He deserves to be regarded as one of the 15 or 20 best players of all-time.  It’s ridiculous that he’s never won the league’s MVP award.  He should’ve won the award in 1998 outright and should’ve shared the award with Tom Brady in 2007.

Moss reminds me of Shaquille O’Neal.  Shaq has one MVP award and four NBA titles.  Steve Nash has two MVP awards and no NBA Finals appearances.  In his prime, we took O’Neal for granted because he was so much bigger and more dominant than his competitors.  We didn’t think it was fair.

We’ve made the same mistake with Randy Moss.  Not since Jim Brown has a single offensive player had the kind of impact Moss has on the game.

Is he lazy?  Does he take plays off?  Yes and yes.

You still have to account for Moss on every single snap.  He dictates and limits what a defense can do.  And he’s made a bunch of quarterbacks rich and famous.

I hope Cassel sends Randy a thank-you note when he takes his $28 million to the bank.

I know that Whitlock writes columns like this simply to stir the pot.  I get it.  But it still makes me shake my head, because it’s one thing to try and argue for or against the contract or Cassel’s ability to run the team.  But to turn the focus — and all of the accolades for what he has accomplished — to an overrated malcontent?  I’m sorry, but you cannot dismiss Moss’ lack of any true work ethic or the fact that he has never won a Super Bowl.  There’s a reason why Joe Montana was a better quarterback than Dan Marino (Okay, many reasons, but the rings are at the top of the list).  To just push aside any consideration of effort or winning is laughable.  I like Whitlock and I enjoy reading his columns, but sometimes…  You just have to wonder what he’s thinking.

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