The Patriots have a big decision to make on Matt Cassel, who had a bust out season in 2008 filling in for Tom Brady, and is set to become a free agent. Should they let their newly-minted star quarterback hit the open market, where he would undoubtedly be snapped up, or should they slap the franchise tag on him and perhaps try to trade him? Complicating said decision is the fact that, according to the Boston Globe, using the franchise tag on Cassel could mean committing $14.65 million to him capwise for 2009:
The NFL Players Association released the franchise and transition tag numbers yesterday for 2009, and the cost of the franchise tag (the average of the top five highest-paid players at a given position) on Cassel would be a one-year tender for $14.65 million.
Since the franchise tenders are guaranteed, if the Patriots franchise Cassel and he signs the one-year tender, he would count more against the cap than Brady, who is scheduled to carry a cap charge of $14.62 million for 2009. Brady is slated to have a $5 million base salary in 2009 and is due a $3 million roster bonus, so Cassel’s take-home pay for ’09 would also be more than Brady’s.
It seems insane that a team would apply almost $30 million of their salary cap just to their quarterbacks. Of course, we don’t know everything the Pats know about Tom Brady’s knee and how his rehab is coming along, and I’m guessing the Pats don’t plan on revealing that information in the near future. So how important Cassel is to their future is anybody’s guess. All I know is that, if the Pats put the franchise tag on Cassel and a team like, say, the Vikings tried to sign him, and the Pats elected not to match the offer, the Vikes would have to cough up two first round picks in exchange…and that is just too much to give up for a guy who had one good year on a team where everything was set up for him to succeed. If the Pats tried to work out some kind of sign-and-trade deal that allowed us to acquire him for a more reasonable price…maybe.