|03-01-2009, 07:31 PM|
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Teicher: Chiefs get Cassel, hoping quarterback will be a standout
Chiefs get Cassel, hoping quarterback will be a standout
By ADAM TEICHER
The Kansas City Star
The cost of a franchise quarterback in the NFL is usually astronomical. In Matt Cassel, the Kansas City Chiefs might have obtained one for a second-round draft choice — and picked up a starting linebacker as well.
Saturday’s trade came not a moment too soon for the Chiefs, who have suffered through bad luck and injuries at quarterback recently. In fact, the Chiefs’ current four quarterbacks have a combined 1-18 record the last two seasons.
Now Chiefs fans can look for hope in the 26-year-old Cassel. He had never started a game before last season, yet replaced injured superstar Tom Brady and won 11 games for the New England Patriots.
If Cassel proves to be the young star quarterback the Chiefs have long been seeking, they will look back on the trade with the Patriots as a steal — swapping the 34th overall pick in this April’s NFL draft for Cassel and veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel.
The trade carries risk for the Chiefs. Cassel, a backup in college at Southern California, is a one-year wonder. He spent three years backing up Brady with the Patriots before being shoved into the lineup when Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury in last year’s opener against the Chiefs.
Cassel had a good season, throwing for 21 touchdowns and 3,693 yards and completing better than 63 percent of his passes. Vrabel will be 34 in August, so he doesn’t figure to play many more seasons.
But if Cassel and Vrabel work out, the Chiefs paid a small price for a quarterback and a linebacker. Both are positions at which the Chiefs have had little stability recently.
Cassel can step in as the Chiefs’ starter because of Kansas City’s remaining quarterbacks — Tyler Thigpen, Brodie Croyle, Quinn Gray and Ingle Martin — only Thigpen has won a game. Croyle, once projected to be the quarterback of the future after being drafted in 2006 out of Alabama, has yet to win a NFL game in eight starts and is coming off a season-ending knee injury. Damon Huard, who with Thigpen led the Chiefs to their only two victories last season, was released.
The Chiefs are paying Cassel plenty, but money is no object for them. Cassel recently signed a one-year contract with the Patriots paying him $14.65 million — which would be the highest on the Chiefs — but Kansas City had about $50 million of room under the NFL-imposed salary limit of $127 million before the trade.
The Patriots were looking to clear salary cap room. Cassel was expendable because New England expects Brady’s knee to be sufficiently healed by the start of the season.
The trade frees the Chiefs to ignore the top quarterbacks in the draft, Matthew Stafford of Georgia and Mark Sanchez of Southern Cal, and use their first-round pick, the third overall, on a different position.
Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley declined to answer questions about the trade. Pioli acknowledged in a statement that he felt comfortable making the move because of his familiarity with Cassel and Vrabel.
Pioli was New England’s personnel director for nine seasons before he joined the Chiefs in January. He was with the Patriots in 2001 when they signed Vrabel as a free agent from the Steelers and in 2005 when they drafted Cassel.
Cassel would have remained buried on the bench behind Brady and an unknown quantity if not for the Chiefs and safety Bernard Pollard, who crashed into Brady’s knee during last year’s Patriots game.
Cassel finished up that day, completing 13 of 18 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown. The Patriots won 17-10.
“He came in and did well against us, maybe played better than we thought he’d play,” Chiefs safety Jarrad Page said. “That was really the first time he was in the game when it was still up for grabs.
“I remember when I was at UCLA, he played tight end a little bit for USC. So you know he’s a tough guy. He’ll take the ball and run. He’s definitely not Michael Vick, but he’ll tuck the ball and run when he gets the chance. That’s one thing they prepared us for before we played them. We also knew he could throw the ball. Why else would the Patriots draft him when he didn’t play in college? They obviously felt he could come in and be a good quarterback.”
Cassel started the final 15 games and the Patriots won 10 of them, finishing 11-5.
“It is very easy to root for guys like Matt Cassel, who do everything the right way and flourish as a result,” New England coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “As much as we would have loved to continue working with Matt, we wish him nothing but the best as he takes this next step forward in his career.”
Although Cassel is the headliner in the deal, the Chiefs aren’t looking at Vrabel as a throw-in. He won’t have a long-term influence in Kansas City, but he can help the Chiefs transition to a 3-4 defense and will give them another veteran linebacker.
Vrabel, an eight-year starter for the Patriots and a member of all three of New England’s Super Bowl championship teams, also can provide leadership for a defense that has lacked in that area.
“When Mike arrived in 2001, we knew we were adding a solid outside linebacker,” Belichick said. “But where Mike took it from there exceeded our highest hopes. Mike Vrabel epitomizes everything a coach could seek in a professional football player: toughness, intelligence, playmaking, leadership, versatility and consistency at the highest level.
“Of all the players I have coached in my career, there is nobody I enjoyed working with more than Mike. He is one of the very special Patriots champions.”
|03-01-2009, 07:43 PM||#2|
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God, Teicher is SOOOOOO dumb. The Chiefs are actually hoping that Cassel will fail.
The idea is that Cassel is bad, and will fail. That way, Thigpen will have even more confidence when we bring him up from off the bench and he instantly leads us to the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
The Chiefs are going to BUILD an undisputed leader of this team, not TRADE for one.