There seem to be two schools of thought emerging regarding the Kansas City Chiefs franchise record deal given to quarterback Matt Cassel. The first school says that the team locked him up now before the market grew and made it even more expensive to sign him. The second is that the team overpaid for someone who hasn't proven anything outside of the best offensive system since Bill Walsh invented the West Coast offense.
Which one is right?
I'm with the school of thought that signing him now was the best option. Yes, it's a lot of money but given the alternatives it's the cheapest route.
"Philip 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." -John Clayton, ESPN.com
If you thought $63 million was a lot of money, then imagine what the potential of $100 million deals given to Philip Rivers and Eli Manning would have done to the market. The top two quarterbacks picked in the 2004 draft are due for new contracts this year and by all accounts they will re-set the market value for quarterbacks.
The Chiefs got a jump on the fluid market of NFL quarterbacks and received the best value for Cassel.
The Chiefs should have waited a year to see what they've got.
What's the problem with this?
A) You would pay Cassel $14.651 million this year and, in the best case scenario, he plays well and you sign him to an even bigger long-term contract following the season.
So, either pay him six years, $63 million total OR you pay him $14.651 million in 2009 + six years, $63+ million next year.
B) Let's say he struggles in 2009. Do we really think Pioli would give up on Cassel after one year? I believe Pioli has seen enough of Cassel that he would stick with him to try and make it work, especially considering the second round pick given up for him and that a contract would have to be in place if a trade was an option. So, the Chiefs decide to franchise him again in 2010 meaning he'd be looking at approximately $32 million guaranteed in two seasons.
That's more than he's getting right now.
Bottom line? If the Chiefs are committing to Cassel for more than one season then this is the cheapest route, by a long shot. Cassel can focus on football, not finances, and the Chiefs now have a manageable cap salary in years 4-6 when Cassel is only due $22.5 million, which is pennies compared to other starting quarterbacks in the NFL.