Monday, January 05, 2009

New England Patriots slap Matt Cassel

with the franchise tag, according to rumors.

I think the Pats need to do this to retain trade value in their 2 superior quarterbacks. Now they are in a position to trade either Cassel or Tom Brady in exchange for draft picks or other value from the other 31 teams. Good QBs are among the scarcer commodities, probably the most scarce.

Of course, the recipient of the tag can often be angered from being taken off the free agent market. The good news for those tagged in better paid positions: all of the money is guaranteed. So Cassel stands to increase his salary from $539,000 mostly unguaranteed (which means he could have been injured and/or cut and receive mostly nothing) to receiving $14 million guaranteed.

And there's always the debate about who the Patriots should keep. Cassel clearly has demonstrated that he can run for yards far better than Brady can. He's also half a generation younger, and without an infected knee. But Brady has won Superbowls with gnomish wide receivers (David Patten, Deion Branch, anyone?) and a weak running game (e.g. Antowain Smith and J.R. Redmond). We've yet to find out how Cassel performs without Welker, Moss, and a deep RB corps of Morris, Jordan, Faulk, Evans, and Maroney.

There is no free lunch. Under the strictest salary cap rules in pro sports, the Patriots are committing 14% of their total payroll to a player who will not see the field on any given Sunday. The average NFL player makes about $2 million, so that's equivalent to 7 roster spots.

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