On Cassel, Pats Weren't Waiting Around
Posted by Tom Curran: Sunday, March 1, 2009 12:26 PM
In February 2002, Steve Belichick stood in the lobby of a New Orleans hotel and said of his son, "Bill is one of the most decisive people you could meet. When he makes his mind up on something, it is done. And he's not looking back and wondering if it was the right thing to do."
This helps explain why, just a dozen hours into the 2009 free agent period, a deal for Matt Cassel was already going down. Every team in the league knew Cassel, franchised but expendable because of Tom Brady, was there to be had.
One team - the Kansas City Chiefs - made a play. And when no other team took a number and got in line behind the Chiefs, New England took their order. No waiting around. No hand-wringing and flipping a ball off the war room wall trying to decide what to do. Be decisive.
So the Patriots got a second rounder - the 34th overall pick for Cassel and veteran outside linebacker Mike Vrabel. Now it's coming to light that the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers were both interested in making deals that involved Cassel, Denver's Jay Cutler and picks going to New England.
The offers went like this according to Adam Schefter of NFL.com. The Lions (or Bucs) would trade for Cassel. They would then ship Cassel to Denver in exchange for Cutler. In Denver, Cassel would be reunited with his offensive coordinator from New England, Josh McDaniel. And the Lions (or Bucs) would have a Pro Bowl quarterback. And the Patriots would have, the scuttlebutt goes, better than the 34th pick.
This explains why, just as the Cassel to KC story was breaking, Schefter was reporting a third team was trying to enter the mix. The third team didn't decide to get its posterior in gear until they heard what the deal to the Chiefs was all about.
By that point, the deal with the Chiefs was practically done. And while Belichick COULD have told Chiefs GM Scott Pioli the deal was off because something better might be coming along, he wasn't going to do that. Not to a close friend, probably not to anybody.
Beyond that, if Belichick and the Patriots pulled back, think of the hurdles that needed to be cleared to get the deal done.
* Agreeing on compensation going to New England.
* Getting Cassel to agree to go to Denver without a long-term deal in place (a key component of the trade to KC).
* Getting Cutler to agree to report to whichever team he was traded to.
* Figuring out what, in addition to Cassel, was going to go to Denver since a Cassel-Cutler trade straight up didn't seem likely.
And if it all fell through, would the Chiefs still be offering that second-rounder? This was something the Lions or Bucs should have been eyeing for weeks, not Saturday morning with Vrabel in Kansas City and Cassel headed there.
There. Was. No. Market. For. Cassel. Other. Than. KC. The fact Tampa and Detroit were shuffling him through speaks volumes. They're not sold on him. So the Pats went for the sure thing instead or trying to shoot the moon. And the only sure thing was the second rounder from KC.
Know what? Think of it this way.
Cassel was like a nice home that fell into your lap from inheritance.
You already have a house (Tom Brady). You're not going to pay two mortgages.
You put it on the market and - wow, nobody's stepping up for this nice house.
The sign's on the lawn but there's only one taker. So you go through the sales process with that earnest taker. Everything's all set.
Suddenly, at the closing, another buyer busts into the lawyer's office saying he'll give you more - MUCH MORE - but he needs to work out financing and he's going to try and flip it or maybe he'll get a consortium to go in on the purchase.
What would you do? The Patriots sold the nice house they didn't need to the people who were serious buyers. And they threw in that reliable 2001 Camry (Vrabel) because they wanted it to go to a good home.
Source: http://blogs.nbcsports.com/home/archive ... iting.html