Former Patriots QB Matt Cassel answered questions from reporters today for the first time as a Chief. The audio can be found on the Chiefs' official website.
Here is some of the Q&A, compliments of the Chiefs media relations staff (click "full entry" for complete comments, the order of which was altered here):
Q: What is your reaction on the trade to Kansas City?
MATT CASSEL: “I am really excited about it. I am excited about the opportunity. I have been to Kansas City once before in 2005 and I know how impressive and how exciting the city and the fans can get. It is a great place to play for, not against when you come to this stadium, but I am really excited about everything.”
Q: Did you give the Patriots a list of teams you were interested in being traded to or was it done on their own?
CASSEL: “This was done on their own. They decided that this was the best opportunity for them. It just worked the way it did. I got the phone call yesterday.”
Q: What does being in the locker room with former teammate (LB) Mike Vrabel mean to you and what will he mean to the Chiefs?
CASSEL: “I couldn’t say more about the character he brings to the locker room. He is a guy that has great integrity, he is a great leader. He leads not only by example but by his words. He works hard each and every day and gives 110 percent. He is a guy that, when I got into the league, really helped me and showed me how to be a professional and step up. I am excited to have Mike come here with us and he is a great ball player as well.”
Q: Would you be willing to not take a long term deal here and …
CASSEL: “At this point it is all so fresh, it is all so new. I just learned at 12 o’clock my time (PT), 2 o’clock your time (CT) that I was traded. Right now I am just taking it all in and figure out what direction we are going to go. Like I said, it is really Scott and my agent Dave that will figure it all out and we will go from there.”
Q: Did you have any inclination that you were going to be traded to the Chiefs or were you resolved that it could be anywhere?
CASSEL: “I was resolved in the fact that I was going to get traded somewhere. I knew that there was probably going to be some kind of talks and transactions that probably took place. I didn’t know when or at what time, but I got the phone call yesterday and I was very excited.”
Q: Are you surprised that your contract had not been agreed upon before the trade was made?
CASSEL: “I didn’t know really how the whole thing works. I know that they are still trying to work everything out. This is my first day in the building and I kind of leave everything up to the agent and Scott (Pioli) to figure out all of that.”
Q: Do you plan on meeting with Bernard Pollard at all?
CASSEL: “Oh gosh. Now he is a teammate and I know that it wasn’t intentional. Nobody likes to see anybody go down, I’m sure including himself. I will talk to him and say hello, say thank you for the opportunity, but you never want to see anybody get hurt out there.”
Q: How do you feel about having this be your football team without having to worry about (QB) Tom Brady coming back from injury?
CASSEL: “I am excited about it. I have been working really, really hard for a long time now and I finally had the opportunity to play last year. I got a taste of what it was like to be out there and play, be on the field every snap. I am excited that I will have the opportunity here to do the same and get this thing going, get on the right track and win ball games.”
Q: How much did you progress from week one to the final week of the 2008 season?
CASSEL: “I think, like anything, the more you do it the more comfortable you become. You start to kind of get into a grove. The biggest thing for any quarterback, especially a young quarterback that just steps in, is getting used to the game speed. You cannot emulate that or simulate that in practice. From week one when you step in and a guy goes down, you don’t get any reps in practice but as the season starts to go, you start to build in your comfort level and start to understand what we need to get done out there it became a little bit easier. I grew in confidence and we got better as a team.”
Q: What is your relationship with GM Scott Pioli like? Did you know he was interested in you when he left New England to come to Kansas City?
CASSEL: “I have a great relationship with Scott Pioli. He was one of my biggest supporters throughout the year. He was always very encouraging. Anytime I needed some advice I would usually go to him as one of the guys who would always be willing to open his office door. We have a great relationship. I was hoping that there was some interest and obviously there was. I am excited to re-unite with him being a guy that is from the Patriots and is familiar with my style of play and a guy that does a great job at what he does.”
Q: What do you have to do to get your mind ready to potentially be the starting quarterback for the Chiefs next season?
CASSEL: “I think last year was probably the toughest year from the standpoint of being a backup quarterback and being thrust into a situation becoming the starter in week one. It wasn’t like I became the starter in week six. I had a full season. I obviously had my own stresses going with the MVP (Tom Brady) from the year before who threw 50 touchdowns and set all kinds of records going down. If I could handle last year with the stress and the adversity that I went through, to come here and be a starter and know that you are going into the thing being a starter, I can prepare better mentally and be on the same page. Obviously it brings its own adversities and its own difficulties but I think I will be ready for that.”
Q: How long have you been waiting for your time to come as a starting quarterback?
CASSEL: “It is funny. You go through five years of college and then three years as a pro, that is eight years of just sitting there and waiting. Everybody is always telling you, ‘you have to be ready; you are one ankle sprain away’. I was sitting there going, ‘gosh, nobody sprains their ankle anymore.’ Finally that opportunity comes about and you kind of say, ‘here we go,’ you take a deep breath, step out and play football. That is what I was there to do and I am just excited that I got that opportunity.”
Q: Were you getting tired of being the second or third guy on the depth chart?
CASSEL: “There is no doubt. You want to play as any football player does. You want to be competitive and as a competitor you want to be out on the field. Any time you can get out there, you welcome the opportunity.”
Q: Have you had a chance to meet with head coach Todd Haley yet?
CASSEL: “I did get a chance to meet with coach this morning. It went well. I really liked him as a person and as a coach. We were able to talk some X’s and O’s and then just kind of set a foundation to where we want to go this offseason and into the season.”
Q: Were you planning on contacting (RB) Larry Johnson, (G) Brian Waters or (TE) Tony Gonzalez to convince them to stay with the Chiefs?
CASSEL: “I hope to be able to have conversations with all of them. I hope to get to know everybody, all of my new teammates. Everything is so new right now. This is only my first day in the building. I hope I will get a chance to talk to those guys and build a relationship with them because they are all great players.”
Q: How much do you know about the Kansas City Chiefs and what has transpired over the last few years?
CASSEL: “I have followed them a little bit over the course of my career obviously. For the most part I had my own situation up in New England and I was just trying to continue to make the team and continue to try and put my best foot forward up there. My concentration really went to putting all my efforts into being the best football player I could be in New England. Now I will try and transition that over to Kansas City.”