In the wake of today's news of a Patriots-Chiefs trade involving Mike Vrabel, here is a breakdown of the Patriots' linebacker corps:
Projected starters:OLB Adalius Thomas
ILB Jerod Mayo
ILB Tedy Bruschi
OLB Pierre Woods
ReservesOLB Shawn Crable
OLB Vince Redd
OLB Darrell Robertson
OLB Angelo Craig
OLB Tully Banta-Cain
ILB Gary Guyton
ILB Bo Ruud
ILB Eric Alexander
ANALYSIS: The natural question today is "Who replaces Vrabel at outside linebacker?" Pierre Woods was the top backup in 2008 and if the season started today, he'd probably get the nod. The Patriots have 2008 third-round pick Shawn Crable -- who didn't play in 2008 -- as a possible option. Vrabel's trade will shine a bit of a brighter spotlight on Crable's development this offseason. The team also re-signed Tully Banta-Cain, who was with the Patriots from 2003-2006 as a No. 3-4 outside linebacker, as another possibility. The draft and/or free agency could also add reinforcements.
After stepping back to digest the surprising news of a Patriots-Chiefs trade with Mike Vrabel, two thoughts came to mind:
1) How much are finances a part of this decision?
2) Could this be part of a larger deal with the Chiefs that might involve Matt Cassel?
What was your initial thought upon learning Mike Vrabel was traded to the Chiefs?
Horrible trade ... It doesn't even matter what the Patriots get back, you don't trade a Mike Vrabel
Good move ... Vrabel was done, whatever they get in return is a bonus
I think this move is setting up something bigger, like maybe clearing room to sign Julius Peppers or as part of a deal that includes Matt Cassel
They traded Vrabel to clear cap room to keep Matt Cassel ... I don't think they're going to trade Cassel
The 33-year-old Vrabel was entering the final year of his contract in 2009. He was due to earn $2.2 million in base salary, would receive a $1 million roster bonus, and count $4.3 million against the salary cap.
Given Vrabel's contributions to the Patriots -- on the field and in the locker room -- that doesn't seem like much to digest.
So why make the deal?
From a Chiefs perspective, they had one of the youngest rosters in the NFL last season, and new general manager Scott Pioli understands the importance of veteran leadership in the locker room. Vrabel will provide that in Kansas City, likely as a team captain.
The question is why the Patriots would trade Vrabel.
Until more details become available on the trade itself -- and if this is the first domino to fall on a larger deal -- the answer to that question remains open-ended.
I can't wait to see what Master Hoodie's next move would be.