View Full Version : Chiefs BABB: Taking a look back at the trade that altered the futures of AFC West rivals

11-12-2010, 10:23 AM

The Kansas City Star

Time has passed, and three AFC teams now live with decisions they made so many months ago.

It has been more than 20 months since Matt Cassel became a commodity that several NFL teams were interested in. During the 2008 season, Cassel stepped in as New England’s starting quarterback after Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Patriots went 11-5 that year. That got other teams’ attention, and Cassel was a wanted man.

“A crazy time,” Cassel said this week. “I was just eager to find a home.”

Kansas City, of course, traded a second-round pick to the Patriots for Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel. Denver’s first-year coach Josh McDaniels, Cassel’s former coordinator in New England, lost out on the quarterback he had targeted — and then lost Pro Bowl starter Jay Cutler, who demanded a trade once he heard about his coach’s interest in bringing Cassel to Denver. The Broncos dealt Cutler and a fifth-round pick in 2009 to Chicago for Kyle Orton and the Bears’ first-round draft picks in 2009 and 2010 and a third-rounder in 2009.

Cassel now laughs about the ordeal that affected the three teams. Each has tried to make the best of its decision. All have moved forward.

But now with the draft picks selected and players being sized up for the long term, which team got the best deal?

Cassel is the Chiefs’ starter, but he is polarizing in Kansas City. He doesn’t make enough mistakes for the team to look toward someone else, but he makes enough that many fans are unsatisfied. Vrabel is 35 years old, and his value now is more as an influential teammate and locker-room leader than a big-play defender.

The Patriots turned Kansas City’s draft pick into safety Patrick Chung, a starter but perhaps a player who will never be a star. And Denver has had some success with Orton, but it hasn’t cashed in on the draft picks it received from Chicago. First-rounder Robert Ayers still isn’t healthy at linebacker, they gave up on cornerback Alphonso Smith, and they dealt the third-round choice to Pittsburgh, which used it to nab starting wide receiver Mike Wallace.

Even Chicago did better in the draft, using the fifth-round selection on Pro Bowl receiver Johnny Knox.

“We’re pleased with our situation,” McDaniels said. “Everybody’s got their own beliefs in terms of how things turn out anytime you make a decision like that.”

Gil Brandt is a former NFL personnel man who’s now an NFL.com analyst. He said that, after all the movement last year, the Broncos emerged as the loser. They traded the Bears’ 2010 first-round selection to Seattle so that they could move up in the 2009 draft to select Smith in the second round. Smith didn’t start a game for Denver last year, and the Broncos traded him in September to Detroit for Dan Gronkowski, now the team’s second-string tight end. Denver gave up on Smith after one season. To make matters worse, Smith has five interceptions for the Lions, a signal that perhaps Denver dumped him too soon.

“They didn’t maximize those picks,” Brandt said.

The Patriots have a history of eventually surfacing as the winner on similar deals. After all, they looked brilliant earlier this season after trading receiver Randy Moss to Minnesota for a third-round pick. Four weeks after the trade, the Vikings cut Moss.

But Brandt said that this time, it was the Chiefs who got the better deal — and not necessarily because Cassel was involved. Brandt said that Cassel has improved in his time with Kansas City, but he said Thursday that he wasn’t sure whom he’d rather have between Cassel and Chung, the young safety, eventually saying he’d prefer the quarterback because of that position’s value to his team.

But if the Chiefs hadn’t also received Vrabel, who’s been a mentor to several of Kansas City’s young defenders, Brandt said the Patriots might have emerged again as the winner.

“To me,” Brandt said, “Vrabel is the one that is the really plus in this whole deal. I would say they’re pretty close. The fact that Vrabel is there tips the scale. I would probably say that Chung and Cassel are even. … We still have the wild card, Mike Vrabel.”

That’s just one opinion, and if you ask each side, they’ll all say they’re pleased with how things turned out. They might also admit that things haven’t been flawless, either. Cassel said that, as he looks back, he didn’t concern himself much with where he ended up or the drama that led him there — as long as he got a chance to start.

“It was more one of those situations of me just wanting the opportunity to play again,” he said. “I felt that I had the ability to do so and anywhere that I was going to go, I was going to be happy about.”

McDaniels said he maintains admiration for Cassel, saying he’s a good fit for the kind of offense Kansas City runs. McDaniels said he doesn’t regret how things went early in 2009, adding that, whoever won or lost in their respective deals, all three teams have moved forward with the decisions they made.

“Our football team and our organization moved in a positive direction toward what we could try to build here,” he said. “We didn’t focus too much on what wasn’t here anymore.

“All we can do is control what we can control and coach the players that we have.”

To reach Kent Babb, Chiefs reporter for The Star, call 816-234-4386 or send e-mail to kbabb@kcstar.com (kbabb@kcstar.com). Follow him at twitter.com/kentbabb.

Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2010/11/11/2423519/taking-a-look-back-at-the-trade.html#ixzz155NmXzxj

11-12-2010, 10:28 AM
I agree. and I said all along that Vrabel would eventually pay huge dividends for this team. He's the one who called the defense to stop the Chargers in week 1, and he's been invaluable in his contributions in helping the young guys. Understandably he was bitter about being traded at first but like a solid pro he ended up being a real leader on this team and that is something you cannot overlook. I think he will even stick around in some capacity next season. Smart guy on the field and a great locker room guy. If he had the skills he did 5 years ago it would be a slam dunk. I think that Studebaker is the guy that will really benefit from Vrabel.

11-12-2010, 10:33 AM
Gil Brandt rates Matt Cassel as about equivalent in value to a starting safety that will never be a star. Again about all you need to know about him.

11-12-2010, 10:34 AM
Why do people continue to ask Brandt's opinion on these matters?

11-12-2010, 10:36 AM
Why do people continue to ask Brandt's opinion on these matters?Because they couldn't reach Mecca?

11-12-2010, 10:37 AM
Because they couldn't reach Mecca?


11-12-2010, 12:27 PM
Because they couldn't reach Mecca?


11-12-2010, 01:34 PM
It would have been so much better if Cassel would have been the Donks Qb.
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11-12-2010, 02:12 PM
I didn't know Alphonso Smith already had five interceptions.

Holy shit, that's hilarious.

They get rid of Smith and Hillis... and receive Brady Quinn and Ron Grodkowski.

11-12-2010, 02:55 PM
Donks got raped in a lot of trades!

Ugly Duck
11-12-2010, 03:04 PM
Shoot.... I thought this article was going to about Richard Seymour...

Mile High Mania
11-12-2010, 03:06 PM
Donks got raped in a lot of trades!

That's what happens when you replace "the Man" with "the Kid".