ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen is now also reporting that the Patriots plan to franchise quarterback Matt Cassel. He writes:
The New England Patriots have decided to ensure that quarterback Matt Cassel won’t be an unrestricted free agent, as scheduled in March.
Sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that the Patriots will use a franchise tag on Cassel that will give the team two options: Trade him if all goes well with Tom Brady’s rehabilitation from a knee injury or keep him because all is not well with Brady.
This news seems to confirm what we already expected. While franchising Cassel has its obvious benefits, I don’t think the Patriots can afford to have both Brady and Cassel on the roster once the regular season begins. Because of this, a trade will have to happen to avoid paying a total of nearly $30 million to both quarterbacks.