KANSAS CITY, Mo. Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel knows that there's a possibility he will be putting on a Chiefs uniform for the very last time when he suits up for the final 2012 game at Denver on Sunday.
"I haven't been told anything," Cassel told FOXSportsKansasCity.com after Thursday's practice. "But it's a long off-season and I'm sure there's going to be a lot of changes next season."
One of those changes very well could include Cassel, who signed a six-year, 63 million deal in 2009 to be the Chiefs' starter.
But now Cassel has been reduced to a backup role behind Brady Quinn. And because Cassel is due to make 7.5 million in base salary in 2013 and 9 million in 2014, it seems unlikely the Chiefs will pay that much for a backup quarterback.
Cassel knows he could be a financial casualty.
"Sure, it's the nature of the business," he said.
That means Sunday could be it for Cassel in Kansas City.
"Because of the nature of the game, it very well could be," Cassel said. "But it can't affect how I prepare for the game (Sunday). I'll just have to deal whatever comes at me in the off-season.
"Hopefully I am back next season. Then again, you never know in this business."
The Chiefs, who likely will get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, seem poised to spend a high pick on a quarterback, making it perhaps ever more unlikely that Cassel will return.
"I have no idea right now," Cassel said. "I'm not even thinking that far ahead right now. Well, I should say I'm trying not to think that far ahead. To be honest, it's hard not to. At the same time I really don't know
"So, right now I'm going to continue to do what I'm doing, get prepared for this game."
If the Chiefs indeed draft a quarterback and keep Cassel, he expects to compete again for the starting job next summer. He does not consider himself a backup in this league.
"Of course, you have to go in with that approach," he said. "You don't go in thinking you're just going to compete well enough to be a backup. Again, this stuff is so far in the future, it doesn't do much good to think about it now."
Yet the off-season now is just around the corner, and for many Chiefs players, that off-season can't come quick enough.
The Chiefs not only have endured a two-win season, they also had to cope with the murder-suicide tragedy involving teammate Jovan Belcher.
Cassel, too, has had to deal with other issues, including losing his starting job as well as the messy controversy when some Chiefs fans actually cheered when he was knocked out of the game against the Baltimore Ravens earlier this season.
"It has been a long season, no doubt about that," he said, smiling. "Once the season is over, it's always nice to be able to step back and reflect on everything. You get back with your family, think about everything, and then you start to think about working toward the next season."
And where Cassel ends us next season is anyone's guess right now. Certainly there will be a market for Cassel if he is released by the Chiefs.
"Again, whatever the future holds, I still feel like I'm blessed to be able to play this game, where ever that may be next year," he said.