Why did the Detroit Lions sign quarterback Matt Cassel?


The Detroit Lions acquisition of quarterback Matt Cassel only works if they trade Jake Rudock. Without doing so, Cassel is unlikely to make the roster.

On Monday, the Detroit Lions officially signed quarterback Matt Cassel. This move is a bit odd for general manager Bob Quinn. Unless this leads to another move down the road.

The only thing not odd about the move is that Cassel is a former New England Patriots backup. There have been plenty of those the past three years, but this particular signing makes the least amount of sense.

Overall, Matt Cassel is not a good quarterback, at least as a starter. But is he good enough as a backup? The answer probably is yes. But the head scratcher is whether or not he is better than current Detroit Lions backup quarterback Jake Rudock.


If Rudock is not traded away, the Detroit Lions could keep three quarterbacks on the roster. But why do this?

NFL roster rules dictate that only 46 (at least 43) players dress on game day of the 53-man roster. Detroit is unlikely to dress three, so why carry three quarterbacks?

Even for the guys not dressing this makes no sense. With just 53 on the roster, it seems much better to spend that roster spot on an extra defensive back, lineman, or basically anything other than quarterback.

Every other position on the team is about having depth. At quarterback, your depth is your starter. Once you lose that, and yes I know backup Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles won a Super Bowl this year, your season is pretty much over.

If all three were on the roster, who would you rather see? Young Rudock with all that upside or old Cassel with a history of just being average? In fairness, Cassel is capable of being the second guy, but has no real use on the roster as a third man.


If Rudock does not get moved, it is very likely that Detroit would cut Cassel. Cassel adds nothing to quarterback Matthew Stafford’™s preparation. At least nothing exceptionally different than what Rudock can add.

The idea that Cassel will push Rudock is also œoff the rails in terms of theory. Rudock is the driver’s seat career-wise. He is not in need of someone to push him as a number two.

Then there is the push Stafford theory. Truthfully, neither of these guys is pushing Stafford. But how much of a push can Cassel provide? Cassel turns 36 in May, and is at the end of his career. Rudock, at just 25-years old, is way more likely to push Stafford as he continues to learn the NFL ropes.

Between the two quarterbacks, Rudock is the only one worth keeping. He has more experience with the Detroit Lions system, and he is 11 years younger than Cassel. Outside of moving Rudock, Cassel’™s days in Detroit may be numbered.


All that said, there is at least one good reason to have Matt Cassel on this roster: to trade away Jake Rudock.

Rudock was a sixth round pick in 2016. If the Detroit Lions can secure a higher pick than that before the NFL Draft (starts April 26), then signing Cassel makes perfect sense.

The Detroit Lions need more assets. A draft pick is way more valuable at this point than having Rudock. Cassel can hold down the number two for a year.

In the meantime, Detroit can develop another young player on the practice squad in 2018. That player would likely be a Day Three pick or a rookie free agent.

This truly is the only scenario that makes Cassel valuable to Detroit.

Next: Detroit Lions 2018 NFL Draft: 4-Round Mock 2.0


If Rudock shows marked improvement, are the Lions willing to invest? High-end backup quarterbacks in the NFL make between $5 and $6 million a year. That is a hefty price, but it could be in the cards. Although Rudock’s bump in pay may start in the $3 to $4 million range.

Rudock is young, he is learning the system, he is no real threat to the starter, and he was drafted by Bob Quinn. Rudock might be the perfect backup. For Rudock to stay long term, he needs to show progression this year.