For the second time this month, the Buffalo Bills have parted ways with quarterback Matt Cassel. Buffalo and the Dallas Cowboys agreed to a trade Tuesday that may pave the way for Cassel to replace an injured Tony Romo under center.
Ian Rapoport of NFL Network first reported the news, while the Bills would later confirm the transaction later in the day. The Cowboys and Bills will swap “late 2017 picks” to complete the deal, per Albert Breer of NFL Network.
Cassel, 33, was released by Buffalo as part of its 53-man roster cuts earlier this month but then brought back. He’s served as a backup to Tyrod Taylor for the first two weeks of the season. EJ Manuel will now assume the primary backup role.
Cassel’s arrival in Dallas comes two days after Romo went down with a fractured clavicle that will keep him out deep into the regular season. On Tuesday, Romo was officially placed on injured reserve with a designation to return. He will not be eligible to return until Nov. 22’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
While understandable, acquiring Cassel is an interesting move given the support the Cowboys have sent Brandon Weeden’s way since Romo’s injury. The former first-round pick has received compliments from teammates and owner Jerry Jones, who was effusive with his praise.
“This quarterback Weeden can drive the ball down field,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas (via CBS DFW). “He’s a thing of beauty on throwing a football. His passing motion and his arm, frankly, you won’t see a more gifted passer, power, accuracy, the entire aspect of it. If he can basically prepare, be the starting quarterback, come in and execute and keep his head right, then I feel good about Weeden.”
Rapoport also noted the Cowboys are planning to add Kellen Moore from their practice squad. Moore has experience in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s system from their days in Detroit. It’s likely Moore will be the backup while Cassel learns the scheme.
More than anything, adding Cassel is an insurance move. Weeden has thrown for 27 touchdowns against 28 interceptions in 29 career appearances; his teams are a combined 5-16 in his 21 starts. Given the Cowboys are already without Dez Bryant, they can ill afford to have below-average play at quarterback. They’ll hope to get satisfactory play from Weeden or Cassel.