IRVING, Texas – For the second straight week, the Cowboys addressed a major injury with a Tuesday trade, as they swapped 2017 draft picks with the Buffalo Bills for quarterback Matt Cassel.
The move came just hours after the team sent Tony Romo to the short-term injured reserve while he recuperates from his broken left collarbone. It will be an eight-week wait for Romo to return to the active roster, so the need for quarterback depth was obvious.
Cassel has made 72 career starts with four different teams during an 11-year career, giving the Cowboys an experienced option behind Brandon Weeden. The team had worked out four veteran quarterbacks earlier on Tuesday afternoon, but ultimately decided acquiring Cassel was the better route.
The USC product earned notoriety in 2008, when he filled in for the Patriots after Tom Brady tore his ACL in the season opener. Cassel completed 63.4 percent for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns in 15 starts that year, guiding New England to an 11-5 record – though ultimately missing the playoffs.
For his career, he’s completed 59 percent of his passes for 15,727 yards with 96 touchdowns and 70 interceptions.
Cassel obviously has veteran status, but it seems like a safe bet the Cowboys will stick with Weeden as their starter for the time being. Weeden, the former first-round pick, has been in the Cowboys’ system since spring 2014 and helped Dallas close out Sunday’s 20-10 win in Philadelphia after Romo was injured.
“He’s someone who’s played for us. He’s played in the league. So he’s an experienced guy. He’s a smart guy,” said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. “Brandon will not play exactly how Tony plays. We don’t want him to play exactly how Tony plays. We want Brandon to play how Brandon plays. We have a system of football that we believe in and we’re confident he can run it for us.”
It’ll be a short turnaround for Cassel to learn a new offense in time for Sunday’s game against Atlanta. To that end, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Cowboys promote Kellen Moore from their practice squad to back up Weeden this week. Moore has been with the team for two weeks, and he worked with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan for a year with the Detroit Lions.
As of Tuesday afternoon Moore said he hadn’t been told anything about his roster status, but he’ll be prepared if he is called upon.
“We’ll see what happens, obviously. If I’m wearing pads and a helmet on game day, I’ll be ready to go if needed,” he said. “During the week I may get a few more reps on scout team, but other than that we’re going to prepare the same way.”
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