Monday, March 02, 2009


Mike Vrabel, and Matt Cassel for the 34th pick in the draft. Mike Vrabel and Matt Cassel for the 34th pick in the draft?

A brief timeline of this trade:

Friday afternoon:
I hear Vrabel's traded to Kansas City. Surprising, not shocking. He's 33 years old, and I've always found his pass rushing to be inconsistent, poorly disguised, and easily foiled by even the averagest of lines.

Patriots trade Cassel to Chiefs. Not at all surprising. Entirely expected. Brady's knees must be healthy.

Later Saturday:
Released that Cassel and Vrabel are part of the same deal. I assumed that throwing in Vrabel was to justify whatever exorbitant price the Chiefs paid for him. Friend of mine tells me it was just a 2nd round pick. I call him a liar.

Sunday morning:
Yeah, just a 2nd round pick for Cassel and Vrabel. Huh?

Let's assess this objectively. I know Mike Vrabel was a popular player. #50 was one of the most seen jerseys at Gillette this year. And he's caught TD passes. BUT, he's 33 years old. He had 4 sacks, and only 40 solo tackles last year. He's neutral against the run, rarely gets into the backfield on the backside of plays, can't disguise his pass rush, and he's 33 years old.

Matt Cassel had a great season, and he's emerged as an NFL calibre quarterback. But he was going to be a free agent. The Patriots weren't in a great situation to trade him because everyone in the NFL knew the Pats weren't going to keep both he and Brady.

But at the same time, there were multiple teams interested in Cassel, which should have (and did) drive his worth to a higher price. And shame on the Patriots for not exploiting this value to its maximum value.

I didn't want a first round pick for Cassel. Early first rounders are too expensive in terms of salary. I wanted multiple picks. I wanted a good 2nd rounder, and maybe a 3rd or a 4th along with it. At least a couple of 6th rounders thrown in as token compensation.

It's hard to believe that Scott Pioli being with the Chiefs had nothing to do with this. It seems like a twisted form of compensation for all his years of service with the Pats. A kind of severance package.

The Pats could have had a 1st and 3rd round pick for Cassel, but didn't explore this thoroughly. Or so it seems. Some suggest Belichick turned down better offers. I find that notion laughable. He'd sell his soul for 5 yards of field position. I just think maybe the Pats didn't explore their possible options fully.

Then again, maybe the Pats have a specific player targeted with this 34th overall pick. Yahoo!'s Dan Wetzel points out that teams may have been hesitant to acquire Cassel, as it would require a large contract extension. And remember, the teams that would want Cassel are poor teams, with many problems, and they need all the cap space they can get for multiple players.

Whatever the reasoning is, the Pats have failed to win the Super Bowl the last 4 years. This year will see more scrutiny, and even criticism if things don't go well.

In Foxborough, failure is not an option in 2009.


Photo Credit:
Associated Press