, Massachuetes (PressExposure) April 10, 2009 -- Matt Cassel, New England Patriots Safety Net
Talk about killing two birds with one stone.
With the free agent period just around the corner, New England is making their move to make it very difficult for another team to acquire Matt Cassel. Cassel's contract expired this year leaving him open to trade to another team. But the Patriots aren't quite ready to give him up.
As an unrestricted free agent, Cassel would have the freedom to go to another team without compensation for the Patriots. By placing a franchise tag on Cassel, New England has the right to negotiate until April 17th, and to match any offer made by another team.
The New England Patriots threw out their safety net with the tag, insuring a number of positive outcomes for the team in the upcoming season. 1. If Tom Brady is unable to return due to the injury he suffered at the beginning of the 2008 season, they can offer Cassel a long term contract as the starting quarterback.
2. If Tom Brady does return, they may make the decision to trade Cassel-in return for two first round drafts.
3. If and when Brady returns, Cassel may remain back-up quarterback.
Either way, the patriots come out on top.
Matt Cassel isn't exactly getting the short end of the stick either. The franchise tag will garner him $14.65 million if he signs the year long contract.
All franchise tenders are derived from the average of the top five earners in the franchise player's position, and only one franchise player is allowed per team, per year. The big risk for the Belichick is that a majority of his salary cap has been used on his quarterbacks.
Matt Cassel was singed by the Patriots in 2005 and served as backup quarterback until September 7, during the first quarter of the season opener against Kansas City, when Brady was hit by Bernard Pollard, and sustained a season ending injury to his knee.
Matt stepped up to the plate and delivered a 17-10 win over the Chiefs. Despite their failure to make the playoffs, Cassel closed the season at 11-5, impressive for a man who hadn't started a game since high school.
According to the Patriots official website, head coach Bill Belichick is looking forward to the year with Cassel, stating in a release by the team "Matt has been a pleasure to coach his entire career and last season in particular, when his years of hard work and commitment resulted in a most impressive performance. We look forward to working with Matt again in 2009."
According to Skysports.com, Brady's return is on schedule.
"You know, Bill (Belichick, Patriots coach) never likes us to forecast anything. It's like me asking you guys 'are you going to be doing your job in eight months?' Yeah, you certainly think so. There is no reason why I shouldn't," Brady stated.
Cassel would clearly like to stay with the team he started for, but if Brady does return, will Cassel settle for being a backup, now that he's proven himself as a starter?