ESPN/Mike Lombardi is/are reporting that the Patriots will franchise Matt Cassel:
Michael Lombardi, a former NFL executive with several teams, reported on this week’s edition of Showtime’s “Inside the NFL” the New England Patriots will put the franchise tag on Matt Cassel to prevent him from becoming a free agent.
In addressing the New York Jets’ precarious quarterback situation, Lombardi was asked if Cassel might be the guy to help them recover from the failed Brett Favreexperiment.
“The Patriots are way too smart, and I’ve talked to people in the organization,” said Lombardi, who worked in the Cleveland Browns’ front office when Bill Belichick was the coach. “They are going to franchise Matt Cassel. He’s an asset and they can control their ability to trade him if they franchise him.”
The franchise tag means the Patriots must give Cassel a one-year contract worth an average of the highest five quarterback salaries.
Cassel would make more money than Tom Brady, but the move would provide insurance in case Brady can’t rebound from his season-ending left knee injury. Once Brady proves he’s fit, the Patriots then could trade Cassel, getting something in return rather than losing him to free agency and coming away empty-handed.
While I wouldn’t take too much into this immediately, it looks like the Patriots may very well franchise Matt Cassel, which would be the smart thing to do of course. It gives the Patriots insurance in case Tom Brady isn’t ready or isn’t what he was, it gives them the ability to gain value through a trade, and it prevents Cassel from going to a division rival like the Jets or Dolphins.