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Monday, March 2, 2009
Read and react: Your takes on the Cassel trade


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Reader reaction was passionate and plentiful to my Sunday afternoon post about the controversial Matt Cassel trade.

The New England Patriots sent their backup quarterback and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs for the 34th overall selection in this year's draft.

But ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported the Patriots could have struck a much sweeter deal.

Mortensen explained the Denver Broncos and Tampa Bay Buccaneers wanted to swing a three-way trade in which the Broncos sent their 12th overall pick to the Patriots and quarterback Jay Cutler to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Buccaneers would send their first- and third-round picks to the Broncos. The Patriots would send Cassel to the Broncos.

But the Patriots did business with the Chiefs.

Based on subsequent reports, it appears the Buccaneers and Broncos got into the mix too late.

Even so, the Patriots still missed out on a better deal. It's incumbent upon the selling team to maximize its asset. If they didn't know the Buccaneers and Broncos were that interested, then the Patriots misread the market.

Readers also declared the 34th pick is more appealing to the Patriots than the 12th pick would because of the salary-cap hit that goes along with it. If so, then why were the Patriots happy to draft a franchise player 10th overall last year? Linebacker Jerod Mayo was defensive rookie of the year and could anchor their defense for a decade.

And even if the Patriots didn't want to draft at No. 12, turning that commodity into multiple later-round picks wouldn't have been unfathomable.

But enough musing from me. Take a look at what the readers had to say:

Mike from Parts Unknown writes: Tim, I think you are an idiot. Anyone who suggests in his best Oliver Stone that this decision has anything to do wtih what BB thought was best for the Patriots has not been paying attention. Undoubtedly, Belichick saw execution risk in doing the more complicated three team deal, and decided to take the bird in the hand with the Chiefs. You don't want to hear that and just want the sensational, freaking idiotic angle. The notion that BB would take a worse deal and not appreciate that he could use the number 12 pick as a chip, at worse, and would instead prefer the 34th pick is laughable. You are lucky to have a job in this economony.

Chris in Boston writes: Hey Tim, I am just having a tough time coming to grips with this trade. I mean even Matt Schaub got Atlanta 2 second round picks. I don't mind the 2nd round pick as opposed to everyone talking about the 12th, however I believe the Pats could gotten maybe another 2nd rounder next year.

JT from somewhere in the Northeast writes: Nice job summarizing the prevailing feeling here in NE over Cassel/Vrabel to KC.

Mike in Vermont writes: The pats needed space in the salary cap, They are giving up a back-up player and a line backer that is old, coming off surgery, and his numbers are down, For the possibility of 4 draft picks that could all be starters this year or next. Best case senerio I agree. But this allows the Pats to be flexable

Kurt from Parts Unkown writes: Hey Tim, I've been a die hard patriots fan for a while now, and I cannot assume that this trade could have been so badly favored to us without a benefit. I cannot brace the thought that Belichick left Pioli with a "parting gift" of this stature. I can't understand what exactly his plan is, the pieces just don't fit. Considering he just cleared $20 million in cap space with this trade, you can only assume that he must have a plan to pick up some free agents. But my question is, who? He traded Mike Vrabel, a move that will subsequently get us younger. Well look at the LB's on the table. We can't get much younger with a guy like Ray Lewis. There are also no players that, even combined, could be worth anything that we lost money wise in making the trade. I mean, who is there for DB's, Dre Bly? There is not one guy in a position that we need that would be worth $20 million. I just don't know. But then again, do we ever know with Bill?

Timmy in Boston writes: Belichick took a 7th round pick and turned into the 34th overall pick - I think it is too early to evaluate this trade because we need to see what BB does with the extra cap space made available. Belichick has a plan and you have to trust the proven record of Bill. Go Pats.

Chris in Vancouver writes: I'm sorry, does ANYONE understand this? The only explanation for this deal I've heard (Cassel, Vrabel to Chiefs for 2nd rounder) is that the Pats cleared up alot of cap space and didn't want a high first round pick due to rookie pay. So why didn't they take this Bucs-Broncos-Pats deal and take a 12th round pick (and the other picks in the deal, whatever they were) and trade down if they didn't want it. This seems flat out stupid. Or, more honestly, its fixed.

Bruno in Washington D.C. writes: Hi Tim: Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe is reporting that Denver's #1 pick for Cassel was never on the table. It only came out AFTER the KC trade, so the Pats never had that option. Personally, I think there are people in Denver and Tampa that are being disingenuous - especially Tampa that has to explain why they traded a #2 for Winslow when they could have gotten Cassel. Which begs the questions, who is going to throw to Winslow? And, do you really think Bill Belichick would give away value? The casualty in this mess is Denver. Their franchise QB feels unwanted and McDaniel has PR fiasco before they've even had a practice.

Mr. Anonymous from Detroit writes: Something about this deal stinks!1 The NFL comissioner needs to look into this deal and void it. There were teams out there offering more then a #2 draft pick.

Martin in Clearwater, Fla., writes: Not sure why there is a conspiracy theory going on with the Cassel trade. This deal was already in the works before Friday. That is the ONLY reason to explain why Vrabel was in Kansas City Friday taking a physical!!! Why aren't ANY of these so called reporters pointing that out???, or is it easier to make it look like Pats are cheating again?

Mr. Anonymous from Tulsa, Okla., writes: Wow, the Cassel trade info. confirms my suspicions...the Pats MUST have been able to get a better trade than a 2nd rounder for these guys. The cap room justification is a red herring. It doesn't matter to which team Vrabel and Cassel were traded, the cap room cleared is the same, right? So why not get a better pick? If the Pats didn't want the expense of drafting at 12, simply trade the pick...e
ven if the Pats got robbed to trade out of 12, they would most certainly end up with a lot more than a single pick at 34. I have to think they must have realized the questionable value/circumstances of this trade would get out, so surely there is nothing underhanded going on here...is it possible that there is some other component to the trade that was not disclosed? And if so, why wasn't it disclosed?

Zack in Sunderland, Mass., writes: I totally agree with your assessment of the fishy trade of Vrabel and Cassel to the Chiefs. The 12th pick is more valuable no matter what and the Pats could in turn trade that pick for more of Belichicks coveted 2nd round picks. The Pats need more depth due to our numerous injuries through the season. The Pats need a shut down corner, we were always at our best with at least one shut down corner (Ty Law, Asante Samuel even if he cost us a Superbowl due to a dropped interception) and we have a better chance to get that with more picks. Also if I were the Patriots I would hate trading Cassel to KC because it was KC who took out Brady.

Peter from Parts Unknown writes: Regarding the Cassel trade and the Patriots passing up the first round pick: Isn't the rather obvious answer to this puzzle that there was, in fact, no firm first round offer from the Broncos?

Dave in Montreal writes: i think that there are 2 issues to think about. With financial times the way they are I believe that the owners are going to be very reluctant to dish out "normal" first round money especially in a year where the first 15 picks or so will be based more on team needs than on actual rankings of players. In effect, there is no difference between pick 5 and 12, however, the usual money will be differnt. In taking a second round pick, the Pats will get a "system" player that they will be able to sign. Issue number 2 is that the Pats now have their "franchise player" status back.

David in Minneapolis writes: There is something else that was involved in this trade and it happened under the table between Pioli and the Patriots. What that is, I have no idea, but I do believe that Pioli played an "off balance sheet" card for this deal. Maybe his silence on a controversial topic? Who knows, but that is the only plausible explanation. Any suggestion that the Patriots "prefer 2nd rounders" is just so absurd that it doesn't even merit consideration.