NFL: Cassel traded to Chiefs
The New England Patriots sent Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs and a message to their own fans: don’t worry about Tom Brady’s knee.
One question, though, remained.
How could the Patriots obtain only a second-round draft choice for a solid, young quarterback and a 12-year veteran leader, linebacker Mike Vrabel?
That mystery persisted Saturday after the Patriots announced the trade for the 34th pick in this year’s draft, which the Chiefs earned with a franchise-worst 2-14 record.
Cassel, who hadn’t started the previous seven seasons with Southern California and the Patriots, led New England to an 11-5 record, but no playoff berth, after Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener ó on a hit by Kansas City’s Bernard Pollard, who said it was an “accident.”
Cassel’s steady improvement sent his stock soaring as he entered free agency. So the Patriots put the franchise tag on him, requiring any team that signed him to give them two first-round picks. But that tag would have cost the Patriots $14.65 million if they kept Cassel as insurance if Brady’s health was questionable.
By shipping him out so early, they must be sure that 2007 NFL MVP Brady will be ready for the regular season after undergoing surgery for torn ligaments in his left knee on Oct. 6
On Feb. 18, Brady said his recovery was on schedule for him to be ready for the opener.
“I’m feeling great. I’m feeling really good. Everything is progressing just as I expected,” he said at a charity event.
The Chiefs needed help at quarterback after Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard were hurt and Tyler Thigpen, the first player from tiny Coastal Carolina to be drafted by the NFL, struggled as their replacement but did throw for 21 touchdowns and 2,994 yards.
“It is very easy to root for guys like Matt Cassel, who do everything the right way and flourish as a result,” Pats coach Bill Belichick said. “As much as we would have loved to continue working with Matt, we wish him nothing but the best.”