Matt Cassel will indeed start the Vikings' last 2 games, barring injury, per sources. No reason to further evaluate Josh Freeman.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) December 17, 2013
Mortensen's report backs up a recent story by NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, which suggests that neither Christian Ponder nor Josh Freeman are in the Vikings' future plans. Meanwhile, Rapoport added that the "current thinking" inside the Minnesota front office is that Cassel will head into the offseason and training camp next summer as the team's starting quarterback.
Wide receiver Greg Jennings certainly wouldn't mind catching passes from Cassel next season. When asked whether he'd lobby to bring Cassel back at season's end following the Week 15 win over Philadelphia, Jennings had the following response, per the St. Paul Pioneer Press' Bob Sansevere: "Absolutely. I love Matt. I think he brings a lot to the table."
Cassel, who connected with Jennings 11 times for 163 yards and a touchdown, has made four starts under center in 2013, including each of the past two weeks. He's 2-2 as a starter and has thrown nine touchdowns to just five interceptions this season.
The 31-year-old veteran played well in Week 14's gut-wrenching loss to Baltimore in the snow and was fantastic in Week 15's blowout win over the Philadelphia Eagles, completing 26 of 35 passes for 382 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He also rushed for a touchdown as the Vikings beat the NFC East-leading Eagles without Adrian Peterson.
According to Spotrac.com, Cassel has a player option for $3.7 million next season and is on schedule to become an unrestricted free agent in 2015.
Meanwhile, Ponder, who has one more year left on his rookie deal, has likely run out of opportunities to prove to the Vikings that he's a franchise quarterback. Ponder, who went 2-6-1 as a starter this season, has battled rib and shoulder injuries throughout the year and has failed to develop into a quality starting quarterback.
Freeman went 20-of-53 for 190 yards and an interception in his only start for the Vikings this season after being signed in early October. The result was an embarrassing 24-7 loss to the New York Giants on Monday Night Football and Freeman being benched for the year.
For now, the Vikings' future at quarterback is fuzzy. But Cassel's strong play of late gives them a starting point this coming offseason.
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