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Saturday, February 28, 2009
Did Chiefs rob Patriots with 34th pick?


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

  Cassel

The 34th overall selection in this year's draft sure sounds like a bargain for the Kansas City Chiefs. That's all they gave the New England Patriots to obtain quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel.

Sound a little cheap to you?

About seven weeks ago, I explored Cassel's trade value with a pair of analysts who've been around the NFL block a time or two.

Floyd Reese was one of them. The former Tennessee Titans general manager was working for ESPN at the time.

Now he's senior football adviser with the Patriots, coming aboard when Scott Pioli left to accept the Chiefs' GM job.

Here's what Reese said back then: "It would have to be multiple choices and very high choices to get Cassel. Two first-rounders, or a one and a two and a three ... It'll be something very, very expensive."

Cassel hadn't been franchised yet, but it was common knowledge the tag was coming. So the element of unloading $14.65 million in guaranteed money was considered in the responses.

I also spoke with Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post.

Lombardi has a strong relationship with many in Patriots management, including coach Bill Belichick, from their days together with the Cleveland Browns. Lombardi was the first to report the Patriots were going to place the franchise tag on Cassel.

Lombardi claimed Cassel's starting price -- not including Vrabel -- should be the draft choices the San Diego Chargers received for Eli Manning.

At the 2004 draft, the New York Giants acquired Manning's rights for Philip Rivers' rights along with a third-round pick that year and their first- and fifth-round picks in 2005.

"Whatever the Giants gave up for Eli has to be the market," Lombardi said. "It's got to be a first-rounder, and not the 22nd or 24th pick in the draft. It has to be a substantial one and one that keeps on giving."