IRVING, Texas– Matt Cassel had just finished a walkthrough practice with the Buffalo Bills on Monday when his agent messaged him that a trade to Dallas was a possibility.
"I said, 'Have you called my wife because I don't know if I want to make that call because she's 36 weeks pregnant,'" Cassel said with a smile. "But at the same time, there was a lot of excitement."
By late Tuesday, the deal was done: Cassel was a Cowboy, tasked with backing up replacement starter Brandon Weeden while Pro Bowl quarterback Tony Romo recovers from a fractured collarbone over the next couple of months.
"It's been a childhood dream of mine to be a Cowboy, honestly," Cassel said. "My father grew up in West Texas in Lubbock and I've got family here, and I grew up a Dallas Cowboy fan all my life."
Cassel arrived at Valley Ranch by early afternoon Wednesday and began learning the Cowboys' offense. He spent the 2014 season in Minnesota under Norv Turner, one of Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett's mentors from his playing days in Dallas, but obviously the two systems have differences.
"Right now I'm just coming in trying to learn a new playbook," Cassel said. "There's a lot to get done, obviously.
"It was explained to me that Brandon is the starter. I'm going to support him in any way I can and help the team in any capacity they want me to, and at the same time I'm going to try to learn the playbook and see how far I can move along and how quickly I can move along in order to, if an opportunity does come up, then I'm ready to play."
The 33-year-old Cassel has spent time as a starter and a backup over his 11 seasons with five teams. Drafted by the Patriots in 2005, he led New England to 11 wins filling in for an injured Tom Brady in 2008. He was the Chiefs starter for the better part of four seasons (2009-12), making the Pro Bowl in 2010, and he started nine games for the Vikings (2013-14) before getting traded to the Bills this past offseason.
The Cowboys also signed Kellen Moore from the practice squad as depth behind Weeden. Moore has two years' experience working under offensive coordinator Scott Linehan in Detroit.
Weeden will make his 22nd career start Sunday against Atlanta, and his second start in a Cowboys uniform. The other was a 28-17 loss to Arizona last November.
"He's, frankly, got the experience with us, (our) system," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said of Weeden. "That's where we want to go. My dream is that he steps in here and really, really has a successful run of it. On the other hand, to get an opportunity to back him up with Matt Cassel was just too good. And we were able to make it work in terms of the trade and so it just improved our team."
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