After praising his leadership and work ethic through spring workouts, the Chiefs announced Tuesday they had signed Cassel to a multiyear contract.
The Chiefs didn't disclose terms of the deal, but NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, citing a league source, reports that Cassel received a six-year contract worth over $60 million, with $28 million guaranteed. The deal is worth $40.5 million over the first three years, which puts Cassel in the upper echelon of NFL contracts.
According to the source, Cassel will earn $15 million in 2009, in accordance with the franchise tender he originally signed with the New England Patriots before he was traded to the Chiefs this offseason.
"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," Clark Hunt, the Chiefs' owner and board chairman, said in a statement released by the team. "His proven leadership on and off the field will be a tremendous asset to the organization."
La Canfora reports that Cassel's contract also includes a $7.5 million bonus, which is triggered if the quarterback is on the Chiefs' roster at the start of the 2011 league year. It's technically not a roster bonus and is treated differently for salary-cap purposes.
A lifelong backup until Tom Brady went down with a season-ending knee injury last September, Cassel was obtained by the Chiefs from the Patriots during the offseason, along with linebacker Mike Vrabel. Cassel, a former seventh-round draft pick, led New England to an 11-5 record last season.
New Chiefs coach Todd Haley, who's 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 that 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," Haley said last month. "I think his teammates like him and have respect for him. I think he's doing a pretty good job on the field, too. 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," Darling said. "We trust in him that he's going to go out there and lead us all the way."
Unsettled quarterback play was a big factor in Kansas City's franchise-worst, two-win finish last season. Early in the season, the Chiefs were down to third-stringer Tyler Thigpen and had to adjust to a spread offense to accommodate his specific abilities.
Trapped on the bench behind Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at USC and then unable to unseat Super Bowl MVP Brady in New England, Cassel seemed destined to be a backup all his life. But after 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, Cassel completed 327 of 516 passes for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdown passes with 11 interceptions last season.
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 fully recover from his knee operation.
"Since Matt arrived in Kansas City, he has embraced the team and the community," Pioli said in the statement released by the team. "His work ethic, his ability and competitive presence is what we expect from our players."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.