Former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, who led the Patriots to an 11-5 record after taking over for an injured Tom Brady in the 2008 season-opener, has parlayed his one season as an NFL staring quarterback into a lucrative long-term contract.
A source close to Cassel has confirmed that Cassel has agreed to a six-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs, who are now run by former Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli. The source said that the deal pays Cassel top five quarterback money.
Update (2:50 p.m.): The source has confirmed, as first reported by ESPN, that Cassel's deal is for $63 million over the six years, $28 million guaranteed.
News of a long-term deal was first reported by the Kansas City Star.
The 27-year-old Cassel was scheduled to play this season under the franchise tag, which the Patriots placed on him following the 2008. The franchise deal was a one-year contract that would have paid Cassel $14.65 million this season. This new deal rips up and replaces the franchise tag contract.
The Patriots traded Cassel to the Chiefs, along with outside linebacker Mike Vrabel, for a 2009 second-round pick on Feb. 28. The Patriots used that second-round pick (No. 34) to select rookie safety Patrick Chung.
Cassel was forced into the lineup last season after Brady tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee on a lunging hit by Kansas City safety Bernard Pollard during the first quarter of the Patriots' season-opener against the Chiefs.
Cassel came on as a beleaguered backup but turned out to be a fantastic fill-in for Brady, twice throwing for 400 yards (in back-to-back games) and tossing four touchdown passes against the Oakland Raiders.
In 16 games (15 starts), Cassel completed 327 of 516 passes for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns with 11 interceptions and rushed 73 times for 270 yards and two scores.
Tomorrow is the deadline for players who have been slapped with the franchise tag to sign long-term deals with the teams that tagged them. If a long-term deal isn't reached before the July 15 deadline, then the player can only play on a one-year deal in 2009, and the player and team aren't allowed to negotiate any type of long-term deal until after the team's final regular-season game.
Update (2:43 p.m.): A little clarification, as ESPN's John Clayton pointed out, the deadline for a franchise-tagged player to negotiate a long-term deal technically would not apply to Cassel because the team that franchised him (the Patriots) traded his rights.