Cassel OK with return as Brady backup

Updated: January 24, 2009, 12:14 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

New England Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel says there won't be a quarterback controversy if Tom Brady returns next season from the knee injury that thrust Cassel into the starting job.

Matt Cassel

Cassel

"This is Tom's team," Cassel said Thursday on ESPNEWS. "The Patriots have been Tom's team. He's built that franchise up with his own two hands. He's the guy, and he was the MVP the year before. I realize that. He's been such a mentor for me that I would say, 'No, there is no quarterback competition.' But I've learned so many things from Tom, and hopefully it'll help me in my career."

Cassel's future with the Patriots will be decided next month. The Patriots will have two weeks starting Feb. 5 to decide if they want to place a franchise tag on him and keep him as an insurance policy, a move that would make him about $14 million. Otherwise, Cassel will become an unrestricted free agent as of Feb. 27, free to sign with any team.

In another interview Thursday, this one on Comcast SportsNet, Cassel said he has yet to begin contract discussions with the Patriots.

WK 16: Matt Cassel highlights

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Matt Cassel threw for 345 yards and 3 TDs in a win vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

"If the situation is what it is, then I would accept it and I would continue to do what I have done my entire career which is work hard, put my best foot forward and continue to work on the things that I need to and put out my best effort," Cassel told the network.

Cassel, who had not started since high school, completed 327 of 516 passes for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He finished the season with an 89.4 quarterback rating, good for 10th among all NFL quarterbacks.