Kansas City, MO - Kansas City has not officially named Matt Cassel its starting quarterback, but there can be no doubt now.
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After praising his leadership and work ethic through spring workouts, the Chiefs announced Tuesday they had signed the 27-year-old Cassel to a multiyear contract. Terms were not disclosed, but he will almost certainly be one of the highest-paid members of the team.
``We are excited to be able to reach a long-term agreement for Matt Cassel to be a Kansas City Chief for many years to come,'' owner and board chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement. ``His proven leadership on and off the field will be a tremendous asset to the organization.''
Patriots made him their franchise player, meaning his salary for this season will be about $15 million.
New head coach Todd Haley, taking over for Herm Edwards after a 2-14 season, refused to name a starter at any position during offseason workouts. But it was obvious to everyone the team belonged to Cassel.
``I go out there each and every day with that focus that I'm the starter,'' Cassel said during a June minicamp. ``Competition brings out the best in everybody.''
The signing will come as welcome news to Cassel's new coaches and teammates. Amiable and hardworking, he appeared to win over everyone at minicamp.
``I think he's got some unique leadership qualities. I think his teammates like him and have respect for him. I think he's doing a pretty good job on the field, too,'' Haley said last month. ``He's doing everything that I'm asking him, that our coaches are asking him to do. I don't have one single complaint how he's carrying himself.''
After one workout, wide receiver Devard Darling declared Cassel ``a breath of fresh air.''
``He has a lot of swagger, a lot of confidence. It's good for us,'' said Darling. ``We trust in him that he's going to go out there and lead us all the way.''
nse to accommodate his specific abilities.
Trapped on the bench behind Heisman winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC and then unable to unseat Super Bowl MVP Brady at New England, Cassel seemed destined to be a backup all his life. As Brady was helped off the field last September, Cassel seized the opportunity he'd been waiting for since high school.
In his only sustained action since his teens, he hit 349 of 555 passes for 3,949 yards at New England. He had 23 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions as the Patriots, who had gone unbeaten through the regular season the year before, finished 11-5 and out of the playoffs.
Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, who had been Bill Belichick's assistant in New England, engineered the trade after the Patriots became convinced that Brady would recover fully from his knee operation.
``Since Matt arrived in Kansas City, he has embraced the team and the community,'' Pioli said. ``His work ethic, his ability and competitive presence is what we expect from our players.''
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