King would be surprised if Cassel is a Patriot in ‘09

In his latest addition of “Monday Morning Quarterback”, Peter King of writes that he would be surprised if Matt Cassel was a Patriot in 2009.

I’m surprised that a quarterback who played as well as Cassel did for the last 10 weeks of the season is being viewed by most people in the league as too risky to chart a long-term course with. It’s not often in free agency or in trade that a young quarterback with promise is available. And while I understand it’s a millstone around Cassel that he’d require probably two fairly high picks plus an average of $14 million-ish a year in a contract, I still think I’d rather have Cassel as my quarterback of the future than, say, Matthew Stafford. And the money’s not that much different.

The logical places for New England to trade Cassel are Kansas City (because Scott Pioli is the man who drafted him in 2005 in New England), Detroit (because the Lions have $36 million in cap room and three of the top 33 picks to play with), Tampa Bay (because the Bucs have $55 million in cap room and no QB of the future), Minnesota (because Brad Childress needs a long-term quarterback) and the 49ers (because their quarterback is named Shaun Hill). I don’t buy San Francisco or Minnesota because of the draft picks they’d have to give up, plus neither are cash-rich. The Lions don’t seem inclined to risk taking a quarterback they’re unsure of; ditto the Bucs.

That leaves Cassel’s old pal Pioli. I think Cassel and Todd Haley would make beautiful music together. The Hunt family wouldn’t grouse at the money. But I say no — not because Pioli doesn’t love the kid. I say no because of Pioli’s history. The Patriots took Tom Brady with the 199th pick in 2000. They took Cassel with the 230th pick in 2005. Let’s say the Patriots asked Kansas City for its second-round pick in 2009 and 2010. Pioli values picks in the thirties the way most team value picks in the teens. I’d be stunned if he did it. I think he’d trust Haley to pick a Josh Freeman in this draft in the third round, let’s say, and work with Freeman, Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen over the next couple of years and say, “Let the best man win.”

King kind of contradicts himself by saying he’d be surprised if Cassel remains a Patriot, then goes on in detail about how all of the leading candidates to acquire him won’t acquire him. But that’s not to say I disagree with anything he wrote.

The Patriots are probably going to have to back down their demands in order to trade Cassel. I could see a team forking over a first and third round pick, but two first rounders or a first and a second seem like too much.

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