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McDaniels could finally get the quarterback he wanted

Cassel

With momentum building for Josh McDaniels to become the next head coach of the Cleveland Browns, plenty of quarterbacks have been mentioned as possible targets for the team.

No, not Jay Cutler.

While the Tebowmaniacs are quick to point out that it was McDaniels (not McDonald’s) who drafted the former Florida quarterback and current ESPN employee in round one nearly four years ago, a more likely target would be Patriots backup Ryan Mallett, who has one year left on his rookie deal.

That would require, of course, a trade with the Patriots. Like the trade McDaniels wanted badly to pull off when he became the head coach in Denver nearly five years ago.

Back in 2009, former Pats V.P. of player personnel Scott Pioli finagled a deal to bring Matt Cassel to Kansas City before McDaniels could pull it off, leaving McDaniels to rely on Kyle Orton for most of McDaniels’ ultimately failed tenure in Denver.

This time around, Cassel once again is under contract. But Cassel can opt out of the second year of his deal with the Vikings, allowing him to sign with any other team he chooses.

The decision likely wouldn’t be the coach’s alone; he’d have to work with G.M. Mike Lombardi and team CEO Joe Banner, and the Browns showed no inclination to pursue Cassel when he became a free agent in 2013. While Cassel had some strong moments during a 3-3 showing in six starts for the otherwise 2-7-1 Vikings, he could be a hard offseason sell in an increasingly skeptical Rust Belt city.

But Cassel could have a role as the veteran backup and mentor to a first-round rookie, especially as Brian Hoyer continues to recover from a torn ACL.

Regardless, McDaniels wanted Cassel five years ago and didn’t get him. If/when McDaniels becomes head coach of the Browns, McDaniels could get another crack at Cassel.