Matt Cassel: From College Backup to NFL Franchise Quarterback

Bill RobbinsCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2009

February 28, 2009 was a big day for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs, who have not been known to make big trades, did just that. It was one of those trades that could change a franchise for years to come.

Kansas City acquired New England Patriot Quarterback Matt Cassel and fellow teammate Mike Vrabel for a measly second round pick in the upcoming '09 NFL Draft.

Some say that this day was a big step in the right direction toward bringing back winning football to Kansas City. Other disagree, saying that the Chiefs already had a decent QB in former seventh-round pick Tyler Thigpen.

However, everyone can agree that this was a big day for the Chiefs and football in Kansas for that matter, regardless of if it will turn out to be a positive or negative thing.

Now, it's time hit the rewind button and review how and why this trade came about. Let's dig a little deeper into the life and times of the aforementioned Matt Cassel. First, in the Cassel archives, let's start by looking at his college days.

He played his college ball at college football powerhouse USC. However he never was a star quarterback, nor did he start there. Something that he did do there was he played behind former Heisman trophy winner Carson Palmer.

Who really knows how much Cassel really learned playing behind Palmer, but the facts are there, that Cassel backed up a future NFL franchise QB in Carson Palmer.

Playing behind such a great QB in college could have meant Cassel either didn't have the skills that it took to be a starter at that level and was not very polished. It could have also meant that he was a very talented QB who just happened to play behind a Heisman trophy winner and he also learned from him and from this experience.

Now, let's fast forward to 2005. This was of course the year that Cassel was drafted by the New England Patriots in the seventh-round of the NFL Draft.

A star QB had already been born in New England, in the form of former Michigan QB Tom Brady, and Cassel was more than likely drafted as a Brady backup in case Tom ever got hurt or struggled in games.

As game after game and week after week passed, Cassel got to sit on the sideline and watch Tom Brady and the Patriots offense dominate their opponents so badly it wasn't even funny.

It would remain like this until the opening week of the '08 NFL Season. In the first quarter of a scoreless game against the Kansas Chiefs, Tom Brady went back to pass and as he threw he was hit low, around his knee, by Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard.

Brady's went down in pain, and soon his day was over. In marched Cassel, the career backup, the man who had never started an NFL game or hardly even played in one.

How was this nobody supposed to fill Tom Brady's shoes? Well he did that and more, to say the least. Cassel lead the Patriots to the victory over the Chiefs that day and ended up leading them to a respectable 11-5 record, where he threw for 23 Touchdowns, and racked up nearly 3,700 yards in passing throughout the season.

This brings us to the big question that is hovering over Matt Cassel's head. Can he have more seasons like his '08 campaign? Can he lead a team that is not Tom Brady's team? Does he have the star quality to be a strong leader and take over an offense?

Chiefs fans everywhere are patiently waiting out the answers to this questions, and these questions will be answered. From there, we will be able to to writer another chapter in the young career of Matt Cassel.