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Saturday, February 28, 2009
The Chiefs had to make the Cassel trade


Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

When word first broke that the Kansas City Chiefs had acquired quarterback Matt Cassel from the New England Patriots, I assumed it would involve the No. 3 overall pick.

So, I was wrapping myself around that concept trying to decide if it was a good deal or not. I could understand the Chiefs giving up the choice for their new franchise quarterback but I still couldn't decide whether it was a good deal or not.

Matt Cassel
Quarterback
Kansas City Chiefs

2008 STATS
YDS CMP% TD INT RAT
3,693 63.4 21 11 89.4

Then I got the press release from the Chiefs explaining the deal: The Chiefs got Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel from the Patriots for their second-round pick, which is the No. 34 overall pick in the April draft.

I needed no more time to come to a conclusion: This was an outstanding deal for the Chiefs.

There really is no risk here. Look, we don't know if Cassel is going to be a superstar player. Yes, he looked good in his time as Tom Brady's replacement in New England. But he had a terrific supporting cast and superb coaching.

It is unclear whether Cassel, who reunites with general manager Scott Pioli in Kansas City, can have the same impact on a much weaker Kansas City team. But he will at least be serviceable and capable of having a big game here and there. And don't discount the possibility of Cassel being outstanding in Kansas City.

The Chiefs have a decent offense and new head coach Todd Haley is known for his success in the passing game. Cassel does have a chance to be just as good as he was in New England.

This was a deal Kansas City had to do considering what it gave up. Now, the Chiefs know they have their quarterback question answered and they still have the No. 3 overall pick to upgrade their defense. Right now, a good guess is that Kansas City will take Wake Forest linebacker Aaron Curry with its first-round pick.

To think the Chiefs can go to training camp with both Cassel and Curry has to be very enticing to the team. It appeared highly unlikely that would be the case.

Because of an expected high price tag on Cassel it was long my stance that the Chiefs should wait on getting a quarterback and stick with Tyler Thigpen for another year. I also thought the Chiefs should stay away from drafting a quarterback in the first round. I figured Thigpen could try to prove himself while the Chiefs, in dire need of help on the defensive side of the ball, draft a defensive player at No. 3.

In one trade, the Chiefs just improved in several areas: They got better at quarterback, backup quarterback, linebacker (in the form of Vrabel) and whichever position they'll use the No. 3 pick on.

There's no denying it. The Chiefs had to make this trade.