The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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March 14, 2013

Vikings land QB Cassel as backup

— Two of the Minnesota Vikings' biggest priorities this offseason were to bolster a thin receiver corps and get a quality veteran to backup quarterback Christian Ponder.

One down, one to go.

The Vikings agreed to terms with Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel on Thursday, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it had not been officially announced. It's been a busy day for the Vikings, who also were hosting Green Bay Packers free agent receiver Greg Jennings for a visit.

The agent for Jennings, Eugene Parker, told the AP his client was visiting Green Bay's NFC North rival. ESPN first reported the trip.

Cassel agreed to terms with the Vikings, a deal first reported by Fox Sports, on the same day he was formally released by the Chiefs with two years left on his contract. He spent the last four years in Kansas City, making the Pro Bowl in 2010 after throwing for 27 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. But he has struggled the last two years, with 16 TDs and 21 interceptions. He completed 58 percent of his passes for 1,796 yards with six touchdowns and 12 interceptions in nine games last year.

Cassel will replace Joe Webb as Christian Ponder's backup. Ponder has been inconsistent his first two seasons, but GM Rick Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier have expressed strong support for their young quarterback and labeled him as the definitive starter when the team starts preparations for 2013.

The 29-year-old Jennings played in only eight games for the Packers in 2012, plus two in the playoffs, because of a torn lower abdominal muscle and finished with a career-low 366 yards receiving with an average of 10.2 yards per catch, also his worst NFL total. In 2011, he missed three games with a sprained left knee.

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