NFL Nation: Matt Gutierrez
The move was made after the team’s mandatory minicamp during the weekend. Clearly, Kansas City didn’t think these players had a chance to make the team and decided it wasn’t worth bringing them to training camp, which starts at the end of July.
The other players cut were defensive back Andre Jones, tight end Leroy Banks and offensive linemen Jermail Porter and Nick Landry.
Gutierrez was overtaken by Tyler Palko as the No. 3 quarterback during the weekend. Gutierrez was on the Chiefs’ roster last season.
Smith was once a promising back for the Chiefs, but injuries derailed his career in Kansas City. With Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones dominating the backfield, the Chiefs had no room for Smith.
"Bring him. Let's go," Hoyer told reporters Thursday at Gillette Stadium.
ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss was among the media gathering and posted a blog item on Hoyer's thoughts.
"He's probably over-scrutinized," Hoyer said of Tebow. "You almost feel bad for [him]. You just want him to come out here and get his shot and let him do what he does. But everyone wants to have an opinion, whether it's his throwing motion or what position he's going to play.
"That's really not fair to him. For as successful a quarterback as he was in college football, I feel like he deserves his chance and not to be so scrutinized."
Hoyer was the only QB backup on the Patriots' roster last summer.
In a startling training-camp maneuver, the Patriots waived Kevin O'Connell, a 2008 third-round draft choice. They also cut Matt Gutierrez when they signed veteran free-agent Andrew Walter in August. They released Walter before the season.
Hoyer got into five games last year, completing 19 of 27 passes for 142 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions. He rushed for one touchdown.
"There is always going to be competition," Hoyer said. "For me, coming in last year, there was a bunch of guys here. I'll never forget when I was getting recruited at Michigan State, I was like 'You have a bunch of quarterbacks here.' One of the coaches was like, 'There are always going to be quarterbacks wherever you go. You're going to have to compete.' It kind of struck me then.
"No matter what you do, you're going to have to compete against someone. If anything, it pushes me to work harder right now in the weight room, in the [practice] bubble, running and throwing and doing the little extra things."
Posted by ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson
The Kansas City Chiefs' decision to trade reserve quarterback Tyler Thigpen to Miami for an undisclosed draft pick should be a good deal for everyone involved.
The Chiefs had been considering trading Thigpen for about a month. They had a surplus at quarterback and Thigpen was the No. 3 on the depth chart. A move was expected now that starter Matt Cassel is healthy. The team had four quarterback as insurance when Cassel was recovering from a knee injury. Now, Brodie Croyle and Matt Gutierrez are the backups in Kansas City.
Thigpen seemed like the odd man out when the Chiefs’ new brass decided to go with Croyle as the No. 2 quarterback. Kansas City was seemingly waiting for another team to come calling after it lost a quarterback to injury. That is exactly what happened. Chad Pennington was lost for the season and the Dolphins needed a quarterback. Thigpen was one of the best options available. The Dolphins and Chiefs finalized the deal around lunchtime Tuesday.
Thigpen is an intriguing player. He moved the ball when he started in the second half of last season. But he’s not a great fit for most systems. He is a freelancer who seems suited for the spread offense. Thigpen has his weak spots and he throws his share of interceptions. But he is a dangerous scrambler and he can move the chains.
Last December, then-Kansas City star tight end Tony Gonzalez said it would be a “disgrace” if Kansas City didn’t give Thigpen a chance to start in 2009. He felt that strongly about him.
But, of course, a lot has changed in Kansas City since then. There is a new regime and Thigpen never appeared to be in the team’s plans.
His agent is happy for the new chance.
“We appreciate the opportunity the Chiefs gave us and ... we’re excited about this opportunity,” Thigpen’s agent, Joel Turner, said. “Bill Parcells is the godfather of NFL personnel men. For him to want Tyler shows he sees something in him as a quarterback.”
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Bill Belichick has a rather simple philosophy for backup quarterbacks.
As he did last year, even before Tom Brady's left knee looked like shredded wheat, Belichick asked himself a question when filling out the New England Patriots' 53-man roster.
"Are you comfortable with them?" Belichick said in a training camp interview with ESPN.com. "If you feel like you can [win] with him, then you probably feel comfortable with him. If you don't feel that way, then that means you're probably looking for somebody else."
|Rick Stewart/Getty Images|
|Matt Cassel filled in for Tom Brady last year and won 11 games.|
In the span of one calendar year, Belichick has gone from content with his backup quarterbacks to thoroughly unsatisfied with some of the same names.
Belichick's comfort level with Matt Cassel allowed the Patriots to experience an incredible season despite Brady's absence. But none of the quarterbacks on New England's active roster from Week 2 last season is with the club anymore.
Cassel (traded in April for financial reasons), Kevin O'Connell (waived Sunday) and Matt Gutierrez (released a month ago) are gone.
"When you put them in the game, you want the ability to win with them," Belichick said in an interview with ESPN.com shortly after signing free agent Andrew Walter, but with O'Connell still on the roster.
The O'Connell move caught the football community off guard. But he apparently didn't fit either of two basic roles Belichick sees for backup quarterbacks. There are projects and there are stabilizers.
"If you're trying to get your backup guy to eventually be your starter or be able to go in and win for you, and you draft a young player like Cassel, you know he's not ready that first year," Belichick said. "But you hope in time you can get him ready.
"That's the problem with a young quarterback. It takes a little bit of time to develop them. The problem with the old quarterback is it's a year-to-year proposition.
"It's a combination of how far you really think you'll be able to go with that player and if you feel he's keeping it warm until you had your starter back -- but then you're looking for someone else."
The only other quarterbacks behind Brady are Walter and undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer, who has looked sharp in preseason games and perhaps supplanted O'Connell as a less expensive project of choice. Seventh-round draft choice Julian Edelman played quarterback at Kent State but has been moved to receiver.
Belichick has done well with backup quarterbacks in the past. When the Patriots have been forced to use a second-stringer, he has been successful. Brady got his break as a medical replacement for Drew Bledsoe in 2001.
When Belichick stood behind a lectern at Gillette Stadium one year ago and suggested that a quarterback who hadn't started a game since high school could step in for a future Hall of Famer and take New England to the playoffs, it was tough not to laugh.
Or at least it sounded comical at the time. Cassel, emerging from an unpleasant preseason that led to speculation he might not make the final roster, replaced Brady and won 11 games.
The Patriots didn't reach the postseason. The Miami Dolphins also went 11-5 and won the AFC East title on a tiebreaker.
Yet it was an admirable failure given the circumstances.
Belichick has employed different types of backup quarterbacks who never saw significant action. The Patriots kept veterans such as Vinny Testaverde and Doug Flutie and used youngsters such as Rohan Davey and O'Connell.
"It's an insurance policy," Belichick said. "People have different philosophies on insurance.
"You can spend a lot and have a real high-quality backup quarterback who's one play away from being your starting quarterback. Or you could have more modest expense there and use that extra money to solidify other positions."
But Belichick claimed he never felt apprehensive sending one of his second-string quarterbacks onto the field when he needed to.
"I don't think there was any set formula," Belichick said. "There's a lot of factors that go into it, but in the end that's what you're looking for: a guy you can win with."
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Buffalo Bills: If Trent Edwards is unavailable, their situation is standard operating procedure. The only track record Edwards has established is that he gets hurt every year. Shoulder, foot, wrist, concussion, groin ... They've all caused Edwards to miss games either at Stanford or for the Bills. To back him up, the Bills signed free agent Ryan Fitzpatrick, a clear No. 2 with game experience. Fitzpatrick has 15 NFL starts, including a dozen last year for the Cincinnati Bengals. Fitzpatrick looked deficient early in training camp, but he perked up in preseason games, completing 39 of 54 passes for 381 yards and one touchdown with an interception. Gibran Hamdan should be the third-string quarterback again this year.
Miami Dolphins: If Chad Pennington is unavailable, their situation is uneasy. Before Pennington arrived a week into camp last year, rookie Chad Henne was pushing to be the starter straight out of Michigan. He was holding his own against Josh McCown and John Beck and had the front office excited. Enthusiasm has been muted somewhat this year. Henne still is considered the club's future quarterback, but he has struggled in practices and exhibitions. He has completed 19 of 35 passes for 224 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Speedy rookie Pat White, a second-round pick out of West Virginia, has looked mostly uncomfortable in an NFL setting. He was drafted in part because of his Wildcat skills, but his arm has been unimpressive.
New England Patriots: If Tom Brady is unavailable, their situation is tenuous for now. Two days ago, the Patriots waived Kevin O'Connell, the player many expected to be their primary backup. It was a curious move. The Patriots spent a third-round draft pick on O'Connell last year. He entered his rookie season as the third quarterback, but handled the No. 2 duties for Matt Cassel after Brady went down with a knee injury on opening day. In training camp, the Patriots cut Matt Gutierrez and signed free agent Andrew Walter, formerly of the Oakland Raiders. The Patriots are said to be on the lookout for another veteran, but the depth chart for now features Brady, Walter and undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer.
New York Jets: If Mark Sanchez is unavailable, their situation is more manageable than most. The Jets are the only AFC East club with a backup quarterback who lost an open competition for the No. 1 job. The Jets should be at least a little comfortable knowing their insurance policy at least had a shot -- OK, maybe not a great shot -- to win the gig. Kellen Clemens has been undistinguished in the opportunities he has been given since the Jets drafted him in the second round out of Oregon in 2006. He started eight games in his second season. He completed 52 percent of his passes, threw five touchdowns and 10 interceptions and finished with a 60.9 passer rating. One of the real surprises since camp opened has been the play of sophomore Erik Ainge. He will be the third quarterback, but showed signs of life after a worthless rookie season that included a suspension for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. In the preseason, Ainge is 18-of-32 for 275 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
A look at the Chiefs' 14-10 loss to visiting Seattle:
The Chiefs didn't say what Matt Cassel's injury was other than he has a leg injury. It's believed that Cassel has a knee injury that is not overly serious. He departed after being sacked on the third play of the game and he did not return. The Chiefs are expected to next address Cassel's situation Monday. The Chiefs start the season in 14 days at Baltimore.
Cassel was brought to Kansas City for stability at the position after the Chiefs saw two quarterbacks do down with injuries last season.
Cassel's injury Saturday night was another indication of how the team needs much better offensive line play. This unit is a liability, and Cassel, when he returns, is going to have to deal with playing under constant pressure.
The Chiefs have to find a way to protect the quarterback better or the injuries are going to pile up.
With Tyler Thigpen replacing Cassel, it makes you wonder if the team will still consider trading him if Cassel is going to miss any time.
Matt Gutierrez, who is competing with Thigpen to be the No. 3 quarterback, completed 10 of 13 passes. Brodie Croyle didn't play Saturday night because the Chiefs wanted to get Thigpen and Gutierrez more playing time, but Croyle still appears to be the choice as the No. 2 quarterback.
The Chiefs were terrible on third down, converting just 1 of 10 opportunities.
Top pick Tyson Jackson was terrific and showed his play-making ability.
Newly signed receiver Ashley Lelie showed a spark and he had 52 yards on four catches. Lelie has some ability and the Chiefs need receivers, so he may have a chance of making an impact.
Rookie kicker Ryan Succop has been good, but he missed a 27-yard field goal Saturday night.
|AP Photo/Stephan Savoia|
|Quarterback Tom Brady hopes to test his knee early and often in preseason games.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The folks residing in Patriot Nation find it unfathomable their team is not returning to the Super Bowl.
Any team coached by Bill Belichick and with Tom Brady throwing passes to Randy Moss must be a Super Bowl favorite, right? There's no other conceivable prediction for fans who harbor blind faith after so many years of being rewarded.
Yet there's a different mood at Patriots training camp this year. They're not the defending champs -- league, conference or division.
The Patriots have something to prove in 2009.
There's a sense of optimism around Gillette Stadium, to be sure. But last year -- following their reality-check loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII -- was a stern reminder nothing should be taken for granted.
How will Brady respond to a live pass rush?
This question cannot be answered as long as Brady's clothed in a red, do-not-touch practice jersey.
But the eventual answer will indicate whether the Patriots should be considered legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
Those who've crowded around the upper practice fields to watch Brady work out can't tell he underwent reconstructive surgery -- save for the black brace that clasps his left knee. His throws have the same zing. He's accurate. His command during two-minute drills is obvious.
That's all well and good, but if he gets jumpy in the pocket, there will be trouble. What has made Brady a future Hall of Famer is his pocket presence. He has been unflinchingly willing to take a hit to give his receivers one more half-second to separate.
|AP Photo/Robert E. Klein|
|Leigh Bodden is one of the early candidates to start at right cornerback for the Patriots.|
We don't yet know how he will react when defenders start falling at his feet, lunging for his legs, dragging him down.
Brady has stated his desire to play as much as possible in the preseason. He knows he'll need to face a few live opponents to see if the mental side of his rehabilitation is on par with the physical part.
What will the revolving door at cornerback turn out next?
Seven players have started at cornerback over the past two years. The Patriots will have at least one more new starter this year, possibly two.
Before we try to get a feel for how Belichick will handle one of the game's most important positions, remember that Fernando Bryant was the first-team left cornerback throughout 2008 training camp and the preseason. Then Belichick cut him before the regular-season opener.
For now, it appears free agent Leigh Bodden is the right cornerback. The left corner could come down to a pair of second-year pros: Jonathan Wilhite and Terrence Wheatley. The Patriots also added veteran free agent Shawn Springs and drafted Darius Butler in the second round.
First-team reps have gone to Wheatley while Wilhite, who replaced Deltha O'Neal for the final four games last season, has missed practices with an injury.
"Certainly, based off the offseason, both of those players have made significant progress," Belichick said, "and hopefully they'll be able to carry that onto the field and into training camp and build on it and have strong seasons. Their offseason has been good. They are way ahead of where they were last year."
Will the Patriots regret not bringing in veteran help to replace Mike Vrabel at outside linebacker?
Neither has much experience. Woods, undrafted in 2006, has made three starts. All of them came last year in place of an injured Adalius Thomas.
Crable, a third-round pick last year, is a somewhat unknown. Crable didn't play a game last year because of a shin problem and opened camp on the physically unable to perform list.
Unless the Patriots eventually do bring in help, it would appear to be Woods' job to lose.
Rodney Harrison's age and health weren't the only reasons the Patriots declined to bring him back for another season at strong safety. Brandon Meriweather's performances in Harrison's place truly nudged them forward.
Meriweather, the 24th overall draft pick in 2007, has been elevated to starting strong safety and should be ready for the job.
He started only the final 10 games after Harrison suffered a career-ending quadriceps injury. That was enough time for Meriweather to make more tackles (79) than Tedy Bruschi, record as many sacks (two) as Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren and lead the team with four interceptions.
Newcomer to watch
The Patriots welcomed back four capable running backs, but Belichick felt the need to enlist more help. Fred Taylor, with his 11,271 career rushing yards, has joined the crew.
How the 33-year-old Taylor's role develops will be an interesting storyline. There's enough depth at the position that Belichick won't need to lean heavily on Taylor, who gained the nickname "Fragile Fred" for the various injuries he endured in 11 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Taylor already has dealt with a wrist injury since signing with New England, but in all fairness, he generally has been reliable over the past seven years, missing a dozen games.
Observation deckBelichick has been turning over the roster since camp began a week ago. The most interesting moves have occurred at backup quarterback, where Belichick obviously isn't happy. Third-stringer Matt Gutierrez was cut and former Oakland Raider Andrew Walter brought in to compete with last year's third-round draft pick, Kevin O'Connell, who seems to have lost reps to undrafted rookie Brian Hoyer. ... Greybeard receiver Joey Galloway is running just fine. A foot injury kept him off the field for all but nine games last year with Tampa Bay. ... Mammoth offensive lineman Sebastian Vollmer, viewed by many to be a reach as the 58th overall draft pick in April, has been impressive. The 6-foot-8 German émigré could push veteran Nick Kaczur to be the starting right tackle. ... Julian Edelman always seems to be on the field. The Patriots drafted the Kent State quarterback in the seventh round and are converting him into a receiver/punt returner/gadget guy. Edelman's often compared to Wes Welker, but they've been on the field together quite a bit with the first team. ... Oft-injured back Laurence Maroney is running with conviction. He's coming off a broken shoulder bone and looks powerful.
An NFL source tells me the Patriots are on the verge of signing journeyman Cleo Lemon to be Brady's top backup. Lemon tried out for them Friday afternoon in Foxborough, Mass. The signing is expected as early as Saturday.
Bill Belichick must crave additional experience at quarterback. New England's depth chart includes Kevin O'Connell (third-round pick last year), Matt Gutierrez (undrafted third-year pro) and Brian Hoyer (undrafted rookie).
O'Connell has six NFL attempts. Gutierrez has five.
Lemon spent last year with the Jacksonville Jaguars and served as David Garrard's backup. In June, the Jaguars terminated his contract with two years remaining.
New England Patriots
- Patriots receiver Wes Welker tells Sports Illustrated's Peter King that New England's offense could be better than it was in 2007.
- Christopher L. Gasper of the Boston Globe takes a look at the transformation taking place on Patriots' special teams.
- Boston Globe columnist Ron Borges reminds us quarterback Matt Gutierrez still is on the team.
- Providence Journal reporter Shalise Manza Young writes outside linebacker Shawn Crable is eager to shake off a frustrating rookie campaign.
- Buffalo News columnist Larry Felser breaks down the pros and cons if the Bills signed Michael Vick.
- Signing Vick would be a brilliant business move, contends Rochester Democrat & Chronicle columnist Bob Matthews.
- Brian Galliford of BuffaloRumblings.com looks at the state of the Bills' receiver corps.
- Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports on defensive lineman Randy Starks' arrest for pinning a police officer with his truck.
- Palm Beach Post reporter Edgar Thompson writes this isn't the first time Starks has been arrested.
- South Florida Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde gives a snapshot of Ricky Williams as he approaches the end of his football lifespan.
- Matt Sohn of Pro Football Weekly writes it looks like cornerback Will Allen will be spending his last season with Miami.
New York Jets
- FanHouse.com columnist Lisa Olson writes the comparisons of Mark Sanchez to Joe Namath are inescapable.
- NFL.com senior columnist Thomas George catches up with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to talk about his emerging voice and vision.
|Jim Rogash/Getty Images|
|The Patriots showed faith in unproven Kevin O'Connell, left, by not pursuing a veteran to be No. 2 behind quarterback Tom Brady.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
Matt Cassel had 39 attempts over his first three seasons before he assumed control of the offense and helped the Patriots win 11 games.
The folks at CareerBuilder.com recently posted a list of the top jobs that don't require experience. Cruiseline worker, English-as-second-language instructor, medical transcriber ... they forgot Patriots quarterback. I would have slotted that gig at No. 10, just ahead of movie extra.
What's cool about being Patriots quarterback is that you can start off as background filler and turn into the leading man.
If Brady's reconstructed left knee doesn't hold up as Patriot Nation prays it will, then sophomore Kevin O'Connell apparently is next in line. The Patriots have chosen not to reinforce their depth chart with veteran support after trading Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs.
How risky is that?
Fan logic dictates if an unheralded Brady (sixth-round draft pick) can come off the bench to be a superstar, and an unknown Cassel (seventh-round draft pick) can come off the bench to get within a tiebreaker of the AFC East crown, then O'Connell (third-round draft pick) can come off the bench and run the show, too.
"It's the relative unknown that scares the living hell out of you," former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak said. "Brett Favre might have had it four or five years ago, where all hopes rest on one guy. Now, maybe you're down to two: Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
|Scott Boehm/Getty Images|
|The Patriots' current No. 3 quarterback is Matt Gutierrez, who didn't even make the team following last year's training camp.|
"Your season hinges on that one guy. You hold your breath again because you don't know."
Brady's backups are O'Connell, who threw six passes as a rookie last year, and Matt Gutierrez, who was undrafted in 2007, has thrown one NFL pass and didn't make the team out of training camp last year. The Patriots signed rookie free agent Brian Hoyer two weeks ago.
"Ultimately, I don't think they've reached a conclusion," said former NFL executive Michael Lombardi, who writes for the National Football Post. "They haven't had a preseason to really evaluate their quarterbacks and this is the time, May and June, to see where they need to go.
"The course right now is to develop O'Connell and see where they are in the preseason and then make adjustments."
New England can't expect to keep inserting neophyte quarterbacks into the lineup and get away with it.
"I don't think that can be a recipe you can count on," Scouts Inc. analyst Matt Williamson said. "I do think there's some risk. It would be nice to have a veteran in the fold, but they know what they're doing."
Zolak doesn't see the need for veteran help.
"Last year at this time, I would have thought a veteran would be the way to go," Zolak said. "They've gone that veteran route with Vinny Testaverde and Doug Flutie, but they've never needed to use that guy.
"They went the in-house route with Cassel, developed the guy for four years and that's the route that worked when it was tested."
Zolak and Wlliamson are fans of O'Connell's.
As a sportscaster for "Patriots All-Access," a television show produced by the club, Zolak has seen the 6-foot-5 San Diego State product more than the average reporter.
"Usually, when you see these guys you think Scott Mitchell, and he doesn't move that well," Zolak said. "But the kid has a smoothness to him and is very fluid for his size. He went to his legs a lot his senior year and picked up a lot of yards on the ground."
Said Williamson: "He has all the tools to work with. He's smart. He's big. He's got a nice arm. He moves around real well."
|Stan Liu/Icon SMI|
|As a senior at San Diego State, Kevin O'Connell rushed for 408 yards and a school-record 11 touchdowns on the ground.|
The Patriots have made enough brilliant personnel moves since Bill Belichick took over in 2000 to earn their fans' trust. The staff has monitored O'Connell for a year. If the coaches are confident he can handle the No. 2 role, then many figure that should be enough.
While the Patriots' front office has rightly been praised for unearthing Brady and Cassel in the late rounds, not all of their quarterbacks have panned out. Lest we forget, they also drafted Rohan Davey and Kliff Kingsbury.
The Patriots also must overcome the departure of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the man who called the plays and molded Cassel into an NFL commodity even though Cassel hadn'
t started a game since high school.
"As long as you have Wes Welker, as long as you have Randy Moss ... they have some weapons," Zolak said. "With Fred Taylor and Kevin Faulk on third down, I don't care who the quarterback coach is. It's hard not to be successful with the type of players they have."
The last time Patriot Nation gave their backup quarterback a second thought was back in the Zolak and Hugh Millen days.
Ever since the Patriots selected Drew Bledsoe with the first pick of the 1993 draft, they have gone into the season without worry about their quarterback's health.
From 1993 through 2000, Bledsoe came off the field enough for his backups to average 39 mop-up attempts per season.
Bledsoe was Gibraltar in the huddle. Nobody bothered to think about his backup beyond the possibility he someday might development into Bledsoe's heir -- when Bledsoe was good and ready to abdicate. Alas, we all know that internal bleeding isn't something you can walk off.
Brady entered Game 2 of the 2001 season and remained the starter for the next 128 games, including 17 in the playoffs, until he crumpled to the turf in last year's season opener. A mangled left knee sidelined him for the rest of the year.
So, for the first time in a decade and a half, the Patriots enter training camp hopeful their quarterback will hold up.
A rebuilt knee -- one that was beset by infections early in the healing process -- offers no guarantees. The only optimism emanates from the aura of the quarterback's credentials. He has won championships, married a supermodel, almost helped Ecuador land the 2010 Winter Olympics, scored 42 points to help the Washington Generals beat the Harlem Globetrotters and almost single-handedly brought back the 8-track.
"I think it's a fluke thing with Brady," Zolak said. "I've talked with enough people who think it's almost like his rookie year again. The kid's hungry again and he's back to the old work ethic he had. That's not to say he has a bad one, but let's face it: The guy has a lot of priorities, and his life has changed since he's won three rings. But he's up and going at full go.
"Tom will be back. As good as Manning was, questions with his knee last year, he didn't really get going until about Week 5, and the guy ended up getting NFL MVP. Donovan McNabb came back from it. So it can be done."
But what if his knee doesn't hold up? As much as he's treated like a god, he is human.
"And if something happens to him, they'll go with one of the in-house guys," Zolak said. "They like the guys they have."
Albert Haynesworth's gargantuan contract has been eclipsed as the offseason's biggest blockbuster deal.
|GM Scott Pioli acquired the Chiefs' starting quarterback on Saturday.|
The Chiefs sent their second-round pick, No. 34 overall, to the Patriots to acquire their desperately needed quarterback and linebacker Mike Vrabel.
If the trade goes through, then it dramatically will change the offseason possibilities for both clubs and send ripples throughout the league.
Here are some consequences to consider:
- The Patriots have unbridled themselves from Cassel's one-year, $14.65 million contract.
- They now have that much more to spend on free agents and have greater flexibility in giving players already on their roster contract extensions.
- Brady's knee still offers no guarantees. New England needs a new backup quarterback unless it's comfortable with second-year pro Kevin O'Connell in that role and Matt Gutierrez third.
- With one less team in need of a quarterback, Mark Sanchez and Josh Freeman likely will slide in the draft because the Chiefs won't be using the No. 3 pick on another one.
- More draft picks for the Patriots mean they can continue to get younger.
I'm not a doctor, and I'm not about to play one on the Interwebs.
But I can safely say what's going on with Tom Brady's left knee is not good.
The New England Patriots quarterback already has had multiple surgeries: one to repair the damage done from a season-ending hit on opening day, and two more to clean out a rare but persistent infection.
Based on Thursday's updates, more cutting sounds likely, and the reconstruction -- a patellar tendon graft to replace his torn anterior cruciate ligament -- might need to be done again from scratch, the Boston Herald reported.
There are no guarantees here. Fears for Brady's future are warranted.
How soon will he be able to play?
Will he ever be the same again?
What should the Patriots do now?
The worst-case scenario is that Brady doesn't come back at all, but a more plausible plot is that he struggles to feel normal again and ceases to be special. He'll turn 32 before next season starts.
The best-case scenario is Brady will be able to rehabilitate his knee and play next season. Still, he wouldn't be able to participate fully in offseason workouts.
If he's unable to regain his form in 2009, the Patriots might not know until it's too late. Unless they're happy with what's on their roster, they'll need to take a hard look at free agency for an insurance policy (at minimum) or a starter (if the dread becomes reality).
Matt Cassel is in the final year of his contract, and if the Patriots want to bring him back for continuity's sake, they'll still need to foster competition in training camp.
Here's a list of quarterbacks about to enter free agency:
- Kurt Warner
- Kerry Collins
- Jeff Garcia
- J.P. Losman
- Rex Grossman
- Kyle Boller
- J.T. O'Sullivan
- Byron Leftwich
- Charlie Frye
- Patrick Ramsey
- Alex Smith (under contract but likely to be cut)
The other quarterbacks on New England's roster are rookie Kevin O'Connell and Matt Gutierrez, who went undrafted in 2007. The Patriots cut Gutierrez before the season and re-signed him when Brady got hurt.
O'Connell is lined up to be their quarterback of the future, but the future might be sooner than Patriots fans would like.
ESPN's Mark Schlereth talks about the physical and emotional toll facing Tom Brady.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Brett Favre's playing conditions were more pleasant last week in South Florida.
It's hot and humid at the Meadowlands, where the New York Jets will host the New England Patriots. An hour before kickoff the temperature already is 90 degrees. The humidity makes it feel more like 96 degrees, according to the Weather Channel. Skies are hazy.
Conditions apparently are good for field goals. Jay Feely, filling in for injured Jets K Mike Nugent, is making kicks from as deep as 60 yards. Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski made tries from 60 and 63 yards.
|Jim Rogash/Getty Images|
|While he admitted Tom Brady's loss was going to "hurt" the Patriots, Randy Moss also knows "the show must go on."|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
"It's going to hurt," Moss said today on a conference call. "It's a said-and-done-term to just 'move forward.' That's hard to really say and hard for us to really do when you're talking about a player and a team leader such as Tom.
"But with all that said, we know the show must go on."
Moss joined the Patriots last year and teamed with Brady to set NFL records, go undefeated in the regular season and win the AFC East before a stunning upset loss in the Super Bowl. Brady-to-Moss was the primary reason the Patriots were favored by many experts to win the Super Bowl this season.
Matt Cassel, with 57 career attempts and zero starts, is the quarterback now.
"Tom is not coming back this year," Moss said. "Matt is our quarterback. [Rookie Kevin] O'Connell's his backup and [Matt] Gutierrez is the third quarterback. That's who we're going to war with.
"We're going to miss Tom for this season, but at the same time we do still have guys here that are collecting checks and a part of this team."
Moss confessed he doesn't know much about Cassel, the backup who will start his first game at QB since he was a high schooler in 1999.
"There's really not a comfort level because I haven't really had a chance to work with Cassel or him work with the first team," Moss said. "He's experienced as much in the preseason, but as far as the regular season, when the bullets are live and everything counts, I don't really think he has experienced that.
"But we have had a little time to work on our timing because Tom didn't play in the preseason. But we have our work cut out for us, and we know that."
Moss was asked what Cassel's strengths are.
"I don't really know," Moss replied. "I don't really want to get into that because I'm used to working with Tom. He has a great upside. I can't really answer your question to pinpoint it because the only performance I've seen is preseason ... and we still left a lot of offense out there on the field."
Even so, Moss sounded as though New England's offense wouldn't change significantly with Cassel at the helm.
"I don't know if this offense can be conservative," Moss said. "We can hit you and we can score in many ways. If it's the run, play-action, drop back, whatever it may be. I don't really know what our goal is. All I know we're going out to try and win games. If that consists of changing the way we call plays, then that's what it's going to be.
"But for now, we have the game plan. We're not slowing down."
Biggest surprise: The Patriots knew they would have trouble replacing left CB Asante Samuel, the Pro Bowler who landed with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Patriots signed three veteran free agents and drafted two more.
Ten-year pro Fernando Bryant took the lead early and kept it, playing with the first unit throughout camp and the preseason, until now. The Patriots released him Saturday, turning the job over to second-round pick Terrence Wheatley, who's already listed as the starter on the team's unofficial depth chart.
No-brainers: Former Mississippi star RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis, an undrafted rookie, was a long shot to begin with. But he certainly was doomed by the signing of LaMont Jordan. DL Santonio Thomas has hung around on the practice squad, but the Patriots are too loaded up front for him to make the final roster.
What's next: With the Patriots, one never can be too sure. They're shrewd and aren't afraid to make a stunning move, as Bryant and Hobson can attest. Cassel has looked so ineffective in the preseason, they could be on the lookout for a veteran in case disaster strikes and Tom Brady goes down for an extended period.