Saturday, February 28, 2009

Cassell/Vrabel Trade Analysis

...And now we learn that for Cassell and Vrabel came "only" a second round pick. Upon first glance that seems a little light. But think about it a second before you have cause to flip out.

1) You know that Belichek scoured the trade landscape and deemed that a) this was probably the best they could get and b) that he absolutely could not risk being "stuck" with Cassell after the draft and free agent period. The insurance plan is great, but for $30mil total at the QB position? Yikes.

2) The idea that they could move him in training camp once Brady proved to be okay is a little far-fetched seeing as it is very tough for any QB to just hop right into another team's system and seemlessly fit himself in. Look at what happened with Favre in New York last year. Favre never seemed totally at ease in that system and the coaching staff never seemed totally at ease with him. In this case it was in both parties best interest to make a deal sooner rather than later.

3) Even though a first round pick would have seemed worlds more exciting than a second round pick, the fact is that they have a VERY early second round pick now and the talent drop-off from somewhere in the late teens or 20's to 34 should not be massive. What makes this all the more appealing to Belichek I am sure is that he feels he can get what he perceives to be first round talent at the cost of a second rounder.

4) Speaking of that, do you realize that if they got the Chiefs first round pick, the cap hit and salary that they would need to take on with that draft pick would be pretty close to the cap hit they would take with Cassell? Last year, the third pick in the draft, Matt Ryan received a 6 year $72M contract with almost $35M gauaranteed. Figuring that that number would go up some this year, the difference in salaries would be almost a wash. Conversely, Devin Thomas, the 34th pick in the draft signed a 4 year, roughly $5M contract. Yes, Thomas has been a bust to date (a little used WR for the Redskins) but first off there is never a gaurantee with early first rounders either and secondly you can always find talent in the second round. Last year a few second round standouts included the Bears Matt Forte and Philly's Desean Jackson, both drafted in the 40's. All of this is a long way of saying that the Pats give themselves tons more financial freedom by gaining a second rounder instead of a high first.

5) With the motherload of first day picks the Pats have (currently 1 first, 3 seconds, and 1 and probably two thirds when the Asante compensation pick is awarded) isn't it possible that they need to keep a little extra cap room on hand to sign all these guys and a few more free agents? Don't you think there could be another free agent maneuver up their sleeve? I've heard the Julius Peppers rumors which I don't buy, but with the Cassell/Vrabel move they did clear about $19M from their cap. Hmmmmm.....

In conclusion, it may seem like kind of a weak haul to only get an early second rounder for Vrabel and Cassell, but in the end I truly think that this will work out for the best both with the pick they received in return and the financial flexibility which they have now granted themselves.

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