The question should be when will the Kansas City Chiefs sign Matt Cassel but then again they may wait a year before they commit big bucks to a guy with only 15 starts under his belt. Let's take a look at the circumstances surrounding Cassel and a long-term contract with the Chiefs.
Signing Cassel Before The Season Starts
If the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the Cassel trade is any indication, this is the option most folks would prefer. Scott Pioli is as familiar with Cassel as anyone and if he was willing to send a second round pick to New England without a long-term deal in place then he's confident that Cassel will pan out - he wanted his guy and knew he couldn't wait for others to get involved.
Signing him to a deal prior to the commencement of the 2009 campaign would be beneficial to the Chiefs.
Current Market vs. Future Market
As of now, the going rate for a player like Cassel is around $10 million per year. If the situation in Denver involving Jay Cutler taught us anything, it's that teams are willing to do whatever it takes to get their quarterback. If Cassel plays out his 2009 franchise tag with the Chiefs and, faced with the looming possibility of being tagged again in 2010, may decide he would rather test the free agent waters with two more years of starting experience.
No player likes to be hit with the franchise tag, especially two years in a row. They're looking for guaranteed money over a number of years and plenty of dollars up front. We can give that to Cassel now without risking the possibility of pissing him off with another franchise tag.
The money is outrageous, particularly on a player with limited experience, but sometimes you have to risk something big to gain something big. For the Chiefs, giving Cassel a long-term deal now would be a risk, but a risk that could save millions of dollars and plenty of headaches.
Bottom line is that the Chiefs don't want to be putting over $30 million in guaranteed money the next two years only to see Cassel walk after 2010. I would rather commit $30 million guaranteed and not be stuck in a situation where you can lose him after two years.
Sign him to a long-term deal and let the Chiefs regain the leverage in this relationship.
Prove It Year
Matt Cassel is under contract by the Chiefs. He has to play in Kansas City this year or play nowhere. After the season, the Chiefs have the option of tagging him again at a 110% increase in his salary.
This means that Pioli can decide to give Cassel one year to prove he's worth it.
If he proves it...great. Let's talk long-term contract. If he doesn't...we can get out without the burden of a hefty contract with lots of guaranteed money.
Peter King lays out the case for giving Cassel a prove it year in this week's Monday Morning Quarterback:
It makes sense for Kansas City to sign Cassel long-term, obviously, but I'm not sure the Chiefs will. Pioli, I'm sure, will remind Cassel (if he hasn't told him already) that Brady took less money to allow the team to build a great team around him. In other words, if Cassel doesn't want to be one of the two or three highest-paid quarterbacks in football, they could get a deal done.
Coming from the New England mindset, let's hope Cassel heeds King's advice and gives the Chiefs a discount.