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Playing Himself Into A Millionaire

The Patriot’s lost their key Thursday night AFC East showdown with the Jets but don’t blame Matt Cassel. The guy that took over for the face of NFL football, Tom Brady, became the first player in NFL history to throw for 400 and rush for 60 in the same game and is playing himself into a millionaire.   You couldn’t find a more improbable feel good story. Before taking over for Brady, Cassel hadn’t started a game at quarterback since November 25, 1999, his final game as a senior at Chatsworth High School outside of Los Angeles. Cassel rode the pine at USC for four years backing up Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart, getting his only playing time as a reserve tight end and on special teams. In his four years as a Trojan, Cassel was 19-33 for 192 yards with no TDs and a pick.   Cassel caught on with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2005, third on the depth chart behind Brady and Doug Flutie. In his first NFL action, Cassel was 2-4 for 15 yards and a pick in a 41-17 loss to San Diego.   In 2006, Cassel became Brady’s full time back up although they brought in Vinnie Testaverde as the emergency QB. Cassel became the holder for Gostkowski late in the year and finished the year 5-8 for 32 years and no touchdowns. 2007 was not much better as Cassel went 4-7 for 38 yards and a pick, the highlight of Cassel’s year a 15 yard scramble for a score in a 52-7 blowout of the Redskins. 0A   Now in his fourth year, Cassel had an awful preseason and was lucky to make the team after taking most of the snaps as Brady nursed and a sore foot. In the season opener vs. the Chiefs, Brady went down with torn a torn ACL and MCL, Cassel rallying Pats to a 17-10 win over Kansas City going 13-18 for 152 and a TD to Randy Moss. The rest is history.   Though 10 games, Cassel is 208-316 for 2200 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven picks. His QBR of 87.3 has him slightly behind the Jags David Gerrard and slightly ahead Trent Edwards and Peyton Manning.   …… and now it’s time to get paid. Cassel is in the final year of his four-year rookie contract that will see him make just $525,000. Regardless of how the Pats finish, Cassel will draw considerable interest on the open market. With Brady rehab taking several setbacks due to post-op infection, it will be interesting to see if New England makes any effort to lock him up.


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