When the Kansas City Chiefs open training camp this summer, like most teams their highest paid player will be their starting quarterback. However, in Matt Cassel’s case he is currently slated to make more than $8.5 million more than the next player. Cassel told Adam Teicher that his financial situation hasn’t changed how he goes about his business.
“I’ve never been a guy who has cared about money,” Cassel said. “Just because you have a dollar figure and that’s what you make, that’s not the kind of person that I am. I’m a down-to-earth kind of guy, and everybody knows that. I’m probably still one of the cheapest guys you’ll ever meet, to be completely honest.
“There’s pressure, and I understand that. That’s what this position is. That’s part of what we signed up for. Everybody looks to you to be the leader. I wouldn’t have it any other way, you know. People have high expectations. I have high expectations for myself. I have high expectations for the Kansas City Chiefs. That just kind of goes along with the territory.”
In ranking third among NFL quarterbacks in base pay, Cassel is in some unfamiliar territory. Each of the five other highest-paid quarterbacks, all also making more than $9 million, has taken a team to multiple Super Bowls (Manning and Favre) or was a high draft pick (Cincinnati’s Carson Palmer, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Oakland’s JaMarcus Russell).
Down the list are Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger and New England’s Tom Brady. Each has guided his team to multiple Super Bowl titles and has been financially rewarded with fat bonuses.
Cassel, a starter for only two seasons, has never taken his team to the playoffs and was originally drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round in 2005. But the Chiefs have high expectations for him just the same.
“I’m really encouraged about Matt and where he’s at, and I’m encouraged about where we are as an offense,” Haley said.
Cassel was the 25th-rated quarterback last year, according to the NFL’s arcane passer-rating system. He was 20th in completions and 21st in touchdowns but was held back by a low completion percentage of 55.0 percent.
“We led the league in (dropped passes),” Haley said. “That created a little different perception of Matt.”
Considering everything that happened last year, from the trashing of the offense late in the preseason to the Larry Johnson saga and the revolving door of drop-happy receivers, I don’t know that Cassel could have handled himself better.
With that being said, Cassel is going to have all the time in the world with the new coaching staff and will be expected to hit the ground running in training camp. Assuming Scott Pioli delivers some sort of help at the receiver position, the spotlight will be even brighter on the Chiefs starting quarterback. Not to mention that after this season Kansas City can more or less cut their losses with Cassel after the 2010 season if things aren’t working out.
He would have to pretty much completely blow up (JaMarcus Russell-style) to get the boot, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind.