NFL Draft Three-a-Days: 23. New England Patriots

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What Is Loud About the Patriots Trading Cassel?

30cassell1190jpgDan Shaughnessy addresses the Matt Cassel trade in his latest column.  He tries to fashion the trade into a “In Bill We Trust” diatribe, but unsuccessfully.

The fiscally prudent Patriots weren’t going to pay Cassel $14.65 million to sit on the bench.  They were always going to trade him.  They franchised him to control him as a valuable asset.  Assured of Brady’s health, the Pats felt comfortable moving forward with a deal.  Pats fans need no leap of faith.

Shaughnessy also examines the fairness of the trade – Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel for the Chief’s #34 draft pick – but misses the salient salary cap shrewdness.

On the face of it, the Chiefs’ first round pick would be more valuable than the second round pick.  However, factor in the cost.  The Patriots would get a better player at #3, but they would also need to pay him #3 pick money, with a huge salary and large guarantees.

The Pats don’t rely on rookies.  There doesn’t appear to be an impact player at a position the Pats need, or one they could justify paying at that slot.

For cost-effectiveness, the second pick is almost preferable.  Assuming the Patriots scout well, they can potentially get a useful, first-round caliber talent for a minimal second-round salary commitment.

New England could have asked for more Cassel compensation.  It’s unlikely they would have gotten it.  At a minimum, a team acquiring Cassel would take a huge salary cap hit next season and probably have to sign Cassel, after one starting season, to a huge contract extension.

Teams were willing to do that, but it would take a Dan Snyder or a Jerry Jones type to lump an absurd package on top of it.  The teams most interested were Denver and Kansas City, who, not coincidentally, just hired reasonably intelligent Patriots’ scions.  Belichick wasn’t going to fool them.

The Patriots’ Cassel trade seems logical, and well conceived.  I’m still not sure how it is “a loud statement.”