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Cassel learns ropes

By Mike Reiss
Globe Staff / January 29, 2009
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TAMPA - Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel has made the transition from on-field business to off-field business, although he said yesterday he's unaware of the team's plans for him.

Cassel is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent Feb. 27, which would mean he is free to sign with any other team. The Patriots could essentially guarantee his return, however, by assigning him the franchise tag at any point from Feb. 5-19.

"At this point, it's just kind of a waiting game," Cassel said at the Tampa Convention Center, where he was part of a Gatorade promotion leading up to Super Bowl XLIII. "There haven't been any talks."

When Patriots players cleaned out their lockers for the final time at Gillette Stadium in late December, Cassel said he wasn't aware of all the business aspects of football - such as the franchise tag - because he had been focused on the day-to-day grind.

He's brushed up on those business areas over the last month, and now has a better grasp of his options.

"I understand the franchise tag and understand what it means. If that means that I'm back with the Patriots, then that's great," he said.

Cassel was asked what would be an ideal result.

"I don't know what the right answer is at this point," he said. "I'm just going to go through it, and whatever the situation is, I'll make the best of it."

Cassel has drawn considerable national media attention of late. After being named the Vizio Top Value Performer last week, he conducted nine satellite television interviews, and yesterday he was a guest on several national radio programs.

Cassel maintained that he's remained levelheaded, but is also enjoying the experience.

"This is kind of the fun stuff that you get to do on the side," he said. "It's a little different and a little weird not being a part of it, because as a player you always hope to be in the playoffs and put yourself in a situation to have a chance to be at this point. Unfortunately, I'm here as a spectator."

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