He's proven the naysayers wrong. Matt Cassel is a legitimate NFL QB.
His phenomenal play in recent weeks has already earned him a hefty sum of money and a chance to start somewhere else in the league next season. His contract is up at the end of the season, and thinking after his recent success that he wants to be Tom Brady's backup isn't a rational thought.
Teams with question marks at quarterback would rather take a proven commodity over a bang-or-bust draft pick. If that commodity is in the prime years of his career, the idea seems even more enticing.
Cassel is only 26. He fits that criteria perfectly, given his progress of late.
Let's take a look at the possible landing places for the young quarterback next season.
Yeah, they signed Daunte Culpepper to a two-year deal, but he hasn't looked good in his first few games. Over three starts, he's completed only 50 percent of his passes for about 150 yards a game, with two TDs to five INTs. Even if he improves on those numbers, he's not going to be the answer.
A lot of Lions fans are high on Drew Stanton, but he's extremely green. Both he and Orlovsky could develop into starters in the NFL. "Could" is the key word, while Cassel has proven himself already this season.
Cassel fits in well in Detroit. He would have a No. 1 receiver in the talented Calvin Johnson, along with a talented young running back in Kevin Smith.
Detroit is awful this season. But Cassel could be a major part of the rebuilding process, and without Matt Millen, the Lions will actually be rebuilding. There's some young talent there, so Cassel could be a corner-stone of the franchise for years to come.
Kansas City Chiefs
Like the Lions, the Chiefs are flat-out awful this season. And they might even have less young offensive talent to work with than Detroit.
But their QB situation is still up to debate. Tyler Thigpen has shown flashes this season and if he keeps that up, the Chiefs could be off the list as potential suitors to Cassel. Right now though, consider them in the thick of it.
As for what would be around him, Larry Johnson probably won't be around next season, and Jamal Charles isn't a sure thing to carry the ball 20 times a game.
Dwayne Bowe is a good young receiving talent, but he's no Calvin Johnson. As a team, the Chiefs might be inches closer to respectability than the Lions are, but not by much.
Right now, the Chiefs are the youngest team in the NFL, if half of those youngsters don't pan out, that franchise could be in trouble for the next few seasons.
San Fransisco 49ers
Alex Smith is a bust. That much is plain and simple. Even if it's not of his own fault, he won't succeed in San Francisco. J.T. O'Sullivan helps out his opponents more than he does his own team. Even under Mike Martz, there's no future there.
Shaun Hill is in a situation much like Tyler Thigpen. When given a chance, he's played pretty well, and at 28, he's not much older than Cassel. So far this season, he's completed 60 percent of his passes for about 225 yards a game with seven TDs to three INTs.
Like Thigpen, If Hill continues to perform at that level, write him in as the starter in San Fran next season. Any drop off though, and the 49ers are right back in the thick of it.
San Francisco is a talented team, make no mistake about it. Cassel would fit into Martz's system well, and the 49ers could be a good team real fast. Keep an eye on San Fran.
If the Vikings could get solid stable play at quarterback, they would be an elite team in the NFL.
That's the problem. The Tarvaris Jackson experiment blew up in their face. Some people might still hold hope for him, but he doesn't look like he's got the goods.
Gus Frerotte is old and turnover prone. Regardless of Minnesota's record at season's end, Gus Frerotte isn't a viable option.
Some Viking fans are high on John David Booty, but I can't see him making it as a starter in this league. He's got a slow release and a below-average arm.
If I'm Matt Cassel, this is where I want to be. Adrian Peterson is the best running back in football right now, bar none. Bernard Berrian and Sidney Rice are both decent receivers, and Rice can still dramatically improve. With solid QB play, the Vikings would be perennial playoff contenders.
New York Jets
Face it, Jet fans. Brett Favre has to retire at some point. If that point is the end of this season, the Jets need to get a suitable replacement in order to stay competitive in a highly contested AFC East.
Favre is not the only reason for the Jets success this season. They have a ton of talented players on both sides of the ball. I love Jericho Cotchery, and Thomas Jones has proved himself to be a solid starting back this season.
It's a strange thing to say a division leader this late in the season could need a new field general at the end of the season, but the Jets are in that position.
Cassel fits well here as well. He knows the division, and he's been coached by Eric Mangini before. If he can succeed in New York like he has in New England, he'll keep the Jets competitive for years to come.
Even if Cassel doesn't keep this production up through the rest of the season, expect him to play and start elsewhere next season.
With all the outlying factors, it's hard to say for sure where he will go. The Vikings and Jets seem like good fits and they are at or near contention. Also, they won't have a high draft pick to take a Matthew Stafford
Regardless, Cassel will find a home somewhere. He'll get a nice paycheck to go with it as well.