AS WE PREPARE TO watch baseball's All-Star Game tonight — and analyze it live on Twitter.com/CamInman via McCovey's Restaurant — some AFC West news offers the perfect mid-day distraction.
The Kansas City Chiefs have locked up the AFC West's mainstay quarterback for the next decade. Or Matt Cassel might become the AFC West's biggest bust since Ryan Leaf.
Anyhow, Cassel landed a six-year, $63 million contract with $28 million guaranteed, according to ESPN. He will earn $10 million annually and stay property of the Chiefs until at least 2014.
He should pay the Raiders a referral fee.
To refresh your memory, Cassel came off the bench to replace injured New England Patriots savior Tom Brady last season and put forth a stellar coming-out party. That included a career-high four touchdown passes in a Week 15 win at Oakland, only days after his father died.
(Cue the Raiders' catchy marketing slogan that commemorates their 50th season: "Where were you when? ... Where will you be?")
New Chiefs personnel czar Scott Pioli traded for Cassel (and linebacker Mike Vrabel) for the paltry price of the 34th overall pick in this year's draft. Now, if the Chiefs can get Cassel a supporting cast, the Raiders might need to worry.
Cassel's commitment to the Chiefs leaves only three quarterback quandaries around the AFC West.
The Raiders, of course, are intent on seeing JaMarcus Russell break out and prove his worth in his second season as their starting quarterback. If he falters, Jeff Garcia is definitely eager to get in there and seize Russell's job. This story will be retold over and over again in the coming months.
The Chargers may remain the AFC West favorite, but they've got to put together a new contract for Philip Rivers, who's entering the final season of his 2004 rookie pact.
Somebody, by the way, has been messin' with Rivers' Wikipedia page. It states only: "He's an overrated bum."
In six career games against the Raiders, Rivers has thrown for over 200 yards only once, but he hasn't had to show off his arms while LaDainian Tomlinson has run roughshod over the Raiders. Overall, Rivers is 73-for-133 for 918 yards with seven touchdown passes and four interceptions.
As for the AFC West's fourth entry, the Denver Broncos, their quarterback quandary comes down to Kyle Orton and whether he can flourish in new coach Josh McDaniels' spread offense. Chris Spleans, er, Simms waits in the wings.
Rating the AFC West's four quarterbacks: No. 1 Rivers, No. 2 (tie) Russell, Cassel, Orton.
Reminder: Two weeks until Raiders camp opens.
Look for Cam Inman's Web-only "Candid Cam" takes whenever there's a breaking sports story, or whenever Cam's got something to say _ in short, just about every day. You can reach Cam at email@example.com. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.