His recovery is now reported to be going well, he didn’t hurt his back leg, so I guess that might be easier to deal with and he’s never been a mobile QB. So let’s just pretend that everything goes great from here out and he is essentially Tom Brady from day one of this season.
That being the case, let’s assume Brady avoids major injuries and is a very productive member of the Pats for another 3-6 years before retiring. Keeping Cassel for that period may very well cost the Patriots Tony Romo money, which is way more than any team would invest in a backup. It won’t happen. So we’ll say that Cassel needs to go.
That all makes me wonder, what are the scenarios where it could happen this year? Chances are teams will seriously consider Cassel based on how he played last year. He didn’t finish the season with a wimper like Anderson did in Cleveland last year, he actually kept getting better. So there is a chance he could be a viable option as a starting QB for a team in need.
With no other considerations, here are teams that may want a starting QB this year:
New York Jets
Of that list, Tampa depends on what they do with Garcia, Carolina may not give up on Delhomme yet, Minnesota and Tennessee both have vets and irradic young guys that they may keep around, Kansas City has Thigpen who played decently last year, St Louis still has Bulger although he hasn’t looked too good, the Jets might have Favre, San Fran may stick with Hill. Detroit is the only team that really has no worthwhile option.
However, if he plays almost as good as he did last year, I’d put Cassel as a more attractive option than any of those teams currently have (if you think long term, in the case of Tampa, Carolina, Minny, Tennessee).
So who is potentially going to make a move?
Tampa Bay: I think this team is too difficult to figure out at the moment. I don’t know if they are going to blow up the current roster or just try and keep things going for a year or two and figure out what to do next. It seems like they’ve tried to keep continuity at the coaching spots, so the latter might be true.
Carolina: They have talent on defense, a good offensive line and running game and a few good receivers. They also have a QB who completely self-destructed in the playoffs (and no, it wasn’t just about opponent talent, watch the Raider game). Delhomme has been all over the place his entire career and I think Carolina may consider a change. However, to afford Cassel they’d definitely have to get out of Delhomme’s contract and I don’t see that happening. Chances are they’ll go for a QB via the draft.
Minnesota: Brad Childress has stuck behind Tavaris Jackson like it’s his brother or something. However, I think he might be starting to seriously doubt if Jackson will ever develop into a real starting QB. Chances are, Childress will lose his job before that happens. Minnesota has been very agressive in bringing in talent recently and it hasn’t paid off because they’ve had Jackson and Gus Frerotte at quarterback. You’re not going to win with either player, because as we’ve all seen, even the best running games can get shut down and you’ll need to make plays via the air. Neither guy can get it done. Minnesota has the 22nd pick in the draft, which is immediately before the Patriots pick. Kind of weird to pick back to back, but it’s a fairly desireable spot as you get a quality player without the massive financial burden. I could see this deal happening.
Tennessee: Kerry Collins is 36 years old and Vince Young is getting top draft pick money. As much as I believe neither QB will get you a championship, I don’t see the Titans going a different direction.
St Louis: Bulger has made big steps backwards recently, but the team around him has been horrible too. So it’s hard to tell if he really has been declining or if the team around him has just been too bad. Chances are, St Louis will work on building with their lines in the draft and keep Bulger until they have a decent team around him and evaluate from there.
Detroit: They need a QB, along with a LOT of other help. We’ve all seen what happens when a bad team puts a rookie quarterback on the field and there’s no sure fire lock for the #1 pick at this point. Detroit could keep their pick and get an offensive tackle, but I think they’d really like a franchise QB. The problem with this trade though, is the #1 pick. The Patriots have no desperate position of need except to slowly add youth to their linebackers. Maybe one of the hybrid DE/OLB guys could shoot up the boards and justify a top pick… but while that would certainly benefit the Pats, I don’t know that they want to throw all that money at somebody.
Kansas City: Very interesting option here. Kansas City has a ton of young players to develop and they need help at every position. They also happen to have Scott Pioli running their show now. He knows Cassel in and out. He also wants a complete culture change with the Chiefs and a new offensive leader is a great way to do it. Unlike the situation with Mangini going to the Jets, this isn’t some big rivalry. Again, we’ve got the problem of a high draft spot not being very attractive, but the #3 spot is a little easier to live with than #1, so who knows… I would put this as a possibility.
New York Jets: Maybe Favre comes back, maybe he doesn’t. Maybe the team still believes in Kellen Clemens, maybe not. Either way, I can’t imagine the Patriots trade anybody of value within their division. They saw what happened last year as the Jets let Pennington go to Miami, who knocked New York out of the playoffs at the end of the year. New England is too smart of an organization to let that happen.
San Francisco: I’m never sure what to make of this organization. They have a lot of turmoil in their division (Age/injuries/coaching problems in Seattle, rebuilding in St Louis, massive coaching staff turnover in Arizona) and they could be a solid move or two away from stealing that division. They liked Shaun Hill last year, but let’s face it, he’s not the answer for any team interested in being a serious competitor. They are going to take a decent hit when they likely cut former #1 pick, Alex Smith, but that’s better than keeping him on the roster. Just based on numbers, the 49ers have an attractive pick at #10 overall. I think based on where the team was at the end of last year and what the possibilities are in their division, they could go after Cassel.