Patriots To Bring In Help Behind Cassel

FOXBORO -- Calling all free agent quarterbacks. The New England Patriots are looking for help under center. Iron man Tom Brady, third on the career consecutive starts list at 128, is not going to play next week, the week after or most likely the rest of the season. Instead of looking for a new clipboard holder this season, the Patriots have put calls out for help.

Patriots Insider reported Sunday that free agent quarterback Chris Simms was invited to New England for a visit* on Monday. Additional media outlets have since confirmed Simms' impending visit, and have indicated that Tim Rattay will also visit this week.

For now the Patriots plan is to go with fourth-year quarterback Matt Cassel. Cassel turned in a strong performance in his first extended playing time of his pro career. He said he was ready to answer the challenge of leading the team.

"This is something I've been preparing for a long time," said Cassel. "It's not something that we expected to come up on the opening day."

Cassel, who admitted the last time he saw that much action was in high school, said he's planning to prepare for the Jets as the team's starter though Brady's future is not yet determined.

"I don't know what Tom's circumstances are but I'm going to come in and approach it like I have each and every week," said Cassel. "I'm going to go in there with the same energy and excitement and try and get ready for the Jets."

Randy Moss (AP Photo)

Randy Moss understands Cassel is now the man who will be delivering the ball instead of Brady. Although Moss was visibly upset at losing Brady, he threw his support behind Cassel after the game.

"I know the show must go on and hopefully Matt Cassel is ready to step in," said Moss. "From a team standpoint we are ready to embrace him and let him lead us."

Moss' support may come a little easier after Cassel's first pass of the game was a 51-yard completion to Moss on a 3rd-and-11 play from New England's own one yard line.

If, or rather when, Brady is placed on I/R, the need for another veteran quarterback on the roster becomes the to priority. Though the team could re-sign Matt Gutierrez, Simms appears to be a more viable option.

For Simms, it is an opportunity to get back on track after wallowing in obscurity in Tampa Bay. Stuck behind Jeff Garcia and battling it out with Luke McCown and Brian Griese, Simms expressed his frustration to the team, publicly calling for his release or a trade.

With his release granted, Simms has been unable to find work. According to Scout.com's Adam Caplan and Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson, Simm's workout wasn't as impressive as journeyman Todd Bouman who the Ravens ultimately signed.

Chris Simms vs Patriots Aug. 2008 (AP)

The Patriots must see something in Simms to put him at the top of their short list. For Simms, it must be nice to feel wanted again. According to a league source, Simms also received calls from the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans after both of their starting quarterbacks were sidelined by injury. The Patriots knocked Chiefs quarterback Brodie Croyle out of Sunday's game in the third quarter with a separated shoulder.

Brady is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of his injury. A source close to Brady told Scout.com that the Patriots' leader is done for the season. Other media outlets have confirmed the news, adding that they believe the injury to be a torn ACL.

The Patriots head to East Rutherford, N.J. to take on the New York Jets and their new quarterback Brett Favre next week. Favre offered his sympathies to Brady in his post game press conference after the Jets defeated the Dolphins on Sunday.

"I just found out about that," Favre said. "That's terrible. I guess it's an ACL or something. They've always overcome injuries and things like that, but that's pretty difficult."

Pretty difficult is an understatement in New England. Brady has been the Patriots leader since 2001 after taking over for an injured Drew Bledsoe. Now it's Cassel's turn to assume the lead.

If what Belichick told the team holds sway, the Patriots still have a legitimate shot to compete for the division and to make the playoffs. According to ESPN, Belichick used the examples of Kurt Warner and Tom Brady as two players who rose to the challenge to lead their team to the Super Bowl after injuries wiped out the starting quarterbacks.

The Patriots hope Cassel can capture some of that magic. They're going to need it.


Scout.com's Adam Caplan shared his top free agent quarterbacks available list, including his analysis and Patriots Insider reaction on each player. You can find the list in the Insider's Lounge: ( Here )

*[Editor's Note: Patriots Insider's source reported Simms was invited for a visit, not a physical on Monday. This story was updated to reflect an AP report which was incorrect. It has been changed to reflect the confirmed visit.]

Patriots Insider Top Stories