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Thursday, March 19, 2009
Belichick addresses Cassel, Peppers rumors


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was a guest on Boston sports-radio station WEEI on Thursday afternoon and rebuffed some trade rumors that recently have been swirling around his team.

Belichick, speaking by phone while on a scouting trip, denied there have been any trade talks between the Patriots and Carolina Panthers for defensive end Julius Peppers and fielded questions about why the Patriots sent quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs when better proposals reportedly were out there.

"With the Julius Peppers situation, I've read things out there about, 'Well, there's trade talks going on.' There's no trade talks going on with Carolina," Belichick said in a partial transcript put together by the Boston Globe's Chad Finn. "They don't have a signed contract [because Peppers has not signed his franchise-tag tender]. They can't talk about trading a player who's not signed."

For the first time, Belichick addressed the widely reported three-way proposal that would've sent Cassel to the Denver Broncos and Jay Cutler to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with a first-round pick going to New England.

Belichick didn't deny such a scenario had been broached but suggested teams had plenty of opportunity to get involved in the Cassel derby and didn't emerge.

"We pretty much had the deal done with Kansas City because there really wasn't any interest," Belichick said. "And some of the teams said a three-way trade and that kind of thing, and those teams -- and I don't want to get into specifics -- but believe me, those teams I had contact with 24 to 48 hours before confirmation of the trade with Kansas City and those teams said they had no interest in the player.

"And you know, all of a sudden, we've got a situation at the last minute, 'Well, we would have done this, we would have done that.' There was no offer. I think there's speculation as to what a team might have been willing to trade. ...

"A lot of the talk I've heard out there about what would or wouldn't have been done is; a) after the fact, and b) conditional on a lot of other things working out. And there's no guarantee all of that would have come together.

"The bottom line is it was never really there, presented. It was like, 'yeah, maybe this could happen,' but it was never presented like here's a firm offer."

Belichick also addressed the notion he accepted less from the Chiefs because of his relationship with their new general manager, Scott Pioli, who had been the Patriots' player personnel chief for nine seasons.

"Look, I have all the respect in the world for Scott Pioli," Belichick said. "He's a great friend, and he's a terrific executive and personnel manager, but I work for the Patriots. I have no loyalty to anybody or any team other than the New England Patriots. Everything I do is for our team to win and be successful. And that's what my commitment is."

The entire Belichick interview can be found on WEEI.com.