It's the end of two eras. Two sad, frustrating eras marked with wasted promise and ill-advised trades and inept quarterbacking. Matt Cassel was released by the Chiefs today, and the Cardinals are expected to cut Kevin Kolb by the weekend. The only question left is: which one of them will end up on the Jets?
Neither release is a surprise. Cassel became expendable when Kansas City traded for Alex Smith. With two years and $17 million left on his deal, Cassel is gone just 24 hours after Smith was formally introduced at Arrowhead.
After a breakout year in New England when Tom Brady went down, the Chiefs acquired Cassel to be their franchise QB, trading away a second-round pick and inking him to a six-year, $63 million deal. It never quite worked out. 2010 saw a Pro Bowl season and a playoff appearance, but it was the exception rather than the rule. Cassel struggled every other year, and dealt with a pair of season-crippling injuries. (Hand surgery after Week 10 of 2011, and a concussion that cost him the starting job in Week 5 of 2012. Chiefs fans cheered as an injured Cassel left the field. That was probably the end.)
Aside from the details, you can just do a find-and-replace on the above to sum up Kolb's Arizona career. A much-hyped backup in Philadelphia, he had an injury-plagued 2010 in which he lost the starting gig to Michael Vick. That offseason, the Cardinals traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second-rounder for him.
Injuries and ineffectiveness ensued, and when you're ceding snaps to John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, and even Brian Hoyer, something has to change. The Cardinals signed Drew Stanton yesterday, and with Kolb set to make $9 million this year, plus a $2 million bonus due on Sunday, he's all but gone.
There is a lesson here, one the Chiefs and Cardinals and even the Seahawks learned the hard way. If you've got a backup QB for whom you have no plans, hype him to the moon. NFL GMs will always overpay for the unknown.