Updated: March 6th, 2014 4:37pm
The Vikings say they'd 'love' Matt Cassel back, but that's up to him

The Vikings say they'd 'love' Matt Cassel back, but that's up to him

by Andrew Krammer
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. - As the free agent, Matt Cassel has the power.

First-year Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said as such when asked whether or not he'd welcome Cassel back after he left $3.7 million on the table to test free agency this offseason.

"You know what, I would love to have Matt Cassel back if Matt Cassel wants to be back," Zimmer said Thursday. "I don't know if that will happen or won't happen. But we're going to find a quarterback somewhere. And if it's not Matt Cassel, then we'll find someone else."

Cassel, 32 in May, appeared in nine games for the Vikings last season even though he was only granted six starts. He led the team with 11 passing touchdowns and 81.6 passer rating.

"I think the team rallied around him a lot but I think the team has a lot of confidence in him," Zimmer said. "Other than playing against him I don't that much about him yet other than the conversation that we had on the phone."

Cassel reportedly has interest from multiple teams, including the Houston Texans - and Zimmer knows that.

"I think everybody wants to explore," Zimmer said. "He's got a bunch of pretty girls looking at him right now. And he wants to explore to see what's best from him. I don't blame any of these guys.

"I want guys who want to be here. I want guys that want to be part of the franchise, be part of the organization, be part of the team. And if Matt wants to come back, I'm sure that we'll get it worked out."

The Vikings' former veteran quarterback leads a relatively weak quarterback free agent class, including Chicago's Josh McCown - as well as possibly the Texans' Matt Schaub and the Jets' Mark Sanchez, who are both likely to be released, per reports.

After cutting Letroy Guion, John Carlson and Greg Childs this week, the Vikings have upwards of $40 million in cap space to negotiate with free agents like Cassel. 

Zimmer reportedly told Christian Ponder, the Vikings' only passer under contract in 2014, that he plans on selecting a quarterback in May's NFL Draft, but that leaves a gaping hole that a veteran will likely fill.

Cassel is the ideal quarterback to step back into that void, knowing the personnel, but that's up to him. 

Andrew Krammer covers the Minnesota Vikings for 1500ESPN.com. He previously covered the Gophers men's basketball team for the Minnesota Daily.
Email Andrew | @andrew_krammer