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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Patriots tag Cassel; SI asks, one year wonder or franchise QB?

    Patriots franchise Cassel
    Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff
    February 5, 2009 05:02 PM

    The New England Patriots announced today that they have utilized their 2009 franchise designation on quarterback Matt Cassel.

    The decision to do so is hardly unexpected and gives the club two main options: They can trade the 26-year-old quarterback if all continues to go well with Tom Brady's rehabilitation from a knee injury, or they can keep him.

    The cost of the franchise tag (the average of the top five highest-paid players at a given position) on Cassel is a one-year tender for $14.65 million, according to the transition and franchise tag numbers released Jan. 30 by the NFL Players Association.

    Since the franchise tenders are guaranteed, Cassel would count more against the cap than Brady, who is scheduled to carry a cap charge of $14.62 million for 2009. Brady is slated to have a $5 million base salary in 2009 and is due a $3 million roster bonus, so Cassel's take-home pay for '09 would also be more than Brady's.

    There is a strong possibility the Patriots will trade Cassel, though Patriots coach Bill Belichick did not indicate that as an option in his comment in today's press release.

    "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," said Belichick. "We look forward to working with Matt again in 2009."

    Today was the first day teams can designate franchise and transition players.

    The 26-year-old Cassel, who made 15 starts after Brady's injury, completed 63.4 percent of his passes and threw for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

    He becomes the first offensive player and just the fourth Patriot to be franchised by the team, joining Adam Vinatieri (2002 and 2005), Tebucky Jones (2003) and Asante Samuel (2007).


    **********************************


    Scouts Buzz: Cassel at crossroads of 1-year wonder or next great QB
    Bucky Brooks
    SI.com
    Posted: Thursday February 5, 2009 1:01PM;
    Updated: Thursday February 5, 2009 5:26PM

    Is Matt Cassel a one-year wonder or the next great quarterback?

    That's what NFL front office executives are wondering as the Patriots officially placed the franchise tag on Cassel on Thursday.

    The fourth-year pro is coming off an outstanding 15-game stint in which he completed over 63 percent of his passes for 3,693 yards, 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions after taking over for injured starter Tom Brady. His 89.4 passer rating ranked 10th best, ahead of Jay Cutler, Eli Manning and Brett Favre, among others.

    "He looks like he has the tools to be a franchise-caliber quarterback," said a high-ranking AFC official. "He has the accuracy and athleticism to be a special player."

    "When you watch how he progressed over the course of the season, you come away with the impression that he could be a special player," said an AFC personnel director.

    Cassel spent his collegiate career backing up two Heisman Trophy winners (Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart) at the University of Southern California. He played in only 25 games as a collegian (completed 20 of 33 pass attempts for 192 yards), but was drafted by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft on the heels of a dazzling workout in front of pro scouts and a strong recommendation from Pete Carroll.

    After spending three years as Brady's backup in New England, Cassel stepped in for the former league MVP to lead the Patriots to an 11-5 record. He entered the season with only 14 game appearances under his belt but finished with three games over 300 passing yards, including back-to-back games with 400 yards through the air.

    While some would argue that Cassel was simply a byproduct of playing in a wide-open system that featured some of the league's best weapons at receiver (Randy Moss and Wes Welker), the argument doesn't undermine the fact he played well in place of Brady.

    Cassel's terrific year created an interesting situation for the Patriots when deciding what to do with him prior to free agency. As an unrestricted free agent, Cassel would be one of the most sought after players on the market, and the Patriots wouldn't receive any compensation if he signed elsewhere. By using the franchise tag on him, it cost the Patriots $14.65 million in 2009. Combined with Brady's $15 million cap number for 2009, New England now has $29 million (or 23 percent of the estimated $123 million cap) committed to the quarterback position.

    Franchising Cassel provides the Patriots with insurance against a Brady setback in rehab and also gives the Patriots the opportunity to leverage Cassel's great year into a nice trade. (Teams that sign franchise players are forced to surrender two first-round picks to the free agent's former club, so most opt to use a sign-and-trade that often results in the former team receiving multiple high draft picks.)

    Derek Anderson and Tony Romo are recent examples of young quarterbacks who turned a handful of solid performances into big pay days and starting jobs. Anderson, who entered the 2007 season as a backup to former Browns starter Charlie Frye, wound up as the league's ninth-ranked passer after taking over the job in the second week of the 2007 season. Anderson's impressive play (3,787 passing yards with 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in 15 starts) not only earned him a Pro Bowl nomination, but also landed him a three-year, $27 million contract. Unfortunately for the Browns, Anderson didn't sustain his performance last season and found himself on the bench after a handful of uneven performances.

    Romo may be the best example of a "one-year wonder" developing into a franchise quarterback. After supplanting Drew Bledsoe as the Cowboys starting quarterback midway through the 2006 season, Romo passed for 2,903 yards in 10 games with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on the way to his first Pro Bowl berth. He followed that surprising season by earning his second straight Pro Bowl bid in 2007 after completing over 64 percent of his passes for 4,211 yards with 36 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. Though his numbers fell off the mark last season (61.3 completion percent, 3,448 yards, 26 touchdowns and 14 interceptions), he has clearly proven he has franchise-caliber ability.

    For any team that eventually settles on Cassel, there could be a bit of trepidation when it comes to depending on him to carry the hopes of the franchise.

    "That's the trap when taking a chance on him," said an NFC personnel director. "You don't have an extensive history to study. He didn't play much in college, and this year is the only time that he has really been on the field. So you're making your judgments solely off one year of production. That's fine, but you don't know how he will respond to the different looks that he will face next year after defensive coordinators have spent an offseason breaking down his strengths and weaknesses. He may turn out to be a good one, but there is no guarantee that he will ever duplicate this season's production."


  2. #2
    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Patriots tag Cassel; SI asks, one year wonder or franchise QB?

    Interesting, if unsurprising, news.

    I'm sure this will stir some speculation but how could we possibly afford to snag Cassel even if DeSpags wanted him?

  3. #3
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    Re: Patriots tag Cassel; SI asks, one year wonder or franchise QB?

    Quote Originally Posted by Azul e Oro View Post
    Interesting, if unsurprising, news.

    I'm sure this will stir some speculation but how could we possibly afford to snag Cassel even if DeSpags wanted him?

    I don't want to snag him I think he is a one year wonder.
    Just Fix It

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    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Patriots tag Cassel; SI asks, one year wonder or franchise QB?

    I agree. I think he has Derek Anderson written all over him.

  5. #5
    bigredman Guest

    Re: Patriots tag Cassel; SI asks, one year wonder or franchise QB?

    I say smart move by the Patriots. With the future of Brady still up in the air, Cassel proved himself a capable replacement and he can only get better. It's the only move that made sense.

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    Re: Patriots tag Cassel; SI asks, one year wonder or franchise QB?

    I still can't get my head around the fact that Cassel is being paid top 5 NFL QB money, as a backup no less.

  7. #7
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Patriots tag Cassel; SI asks, one year wonder or franchise QB?

    Quote Originally Posted by bigredman View Post
    I say smart move by the Patriots. With the future of Brady still up in the air, Cassel proved himself a capable replacement and he can only get better. It's the only move that made sense.
    Agreed. They certainly weren't going to let him hit the open market without securing compensation for themselves. To me, the franchise tag was inevitable for Cassel simply because the Pats would get nothing for him otherwise. Now the real question becomes whether or not he's traded, what the compensation is, and what kind of contract he gets from his new team.

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