Updated: December 2, 2009 at 12:00 am
ENGLEWOOD – As the Jay Cutler drama unfolded in Denver this offseason, Matt Cassel was as surprised as anyone that his name was in the middle of it.
After a rumor emerged that the Broncos had inquired about trading for Cassel, who was with the New England Patriots at the time, Cutler got upset. A long soap opera began, and it ended with Cutler being traded to Chicago.
Although Cassel said he never talked to anyone from the Broncos during that period and was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs instead, he was unwillingly linked to one of the biggest offseason stories in Broncos history.
“It was crazy, because I was watching ESPN like you were and saying ‘How the heck did my name get thrown in here?’” Cassel said.
Cassel emerged last year under Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who is now Denver’s coach. The Broncos and Chiefs play each other for the first time this season Sunday.
Life would have been much different for many people had Cassel been traded to the Broncos instead, but he hasn’t reflected on that much.
“I never really looked back, you can’t do that, I just move forward,” Cassel said. “I love where I’m at, I’m happy where I’m at and I think there’s a lot of great things to come here in Kansas City.”
Cassel said he and McDaniels talked a bit during the summer, but not much since the season started.
Cassel said he and McDaniels had a good relationship, and he developed rapidly under McDaniels’ tutelage last year following Tom Brady’s injury. After his strong showing last season, Cassel was a hot commodity in the offseason and signed a six-year, $63 million deal with the Chiefs after being traded.
“He’s had a major influence on my career,” Cassel said. “He really helped me grow up as a quarterback in this league.
“I give a lot of credit to me being in this position because of him.”
Cassel is on pace for fewer yards, a lower completion percentage and more interceptions than last year, when he was working with McDaniels and running much of the same offense Denver uses. Cassel said Kansas City’s offense is more like Arizona’s, where Chiefs head coach Todd Haley came from, than what he was used to.
McDaniels praised Cassel, who has 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season.
“Matt is a very talented player,” McDaniels said. “Obviously, last year the experience that he gained in playing a full season is invaluable to any player. Certainly in his development, I'm sure that meant a lot.”