Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Matt Cassel: "A Life of Possibilities"

By now we all know the background on Matt Cassel: always a bridesmaid, never bride...or, in his case, always a backup and never a starter. That was the case until week 1 of the 2008-2009 NFL season. The golden boy quaterback Tom Brady went down with a season ending knee injury and Matt Cassel's life changed forever. Sports analysts and fans alike had little to no hope that the New England Patriots would win more than 4-5 games the rest of the season in the absence of Brady. Cassel stepped in and lead the Patriots to an 11-5 record...all without missing a beat.

On paper, Cassel is set to become an unrestricted free-agent this February but several reports point to Cassel getting the franchise tag by the Patriots organization. This essientally means that New England shall retain Matt Cassell for the 2009-2010 season for around $14 million dollars. In February of 2010, Cassel will become an unrestricted free agent without the ability to be franchised again... his possibilities will be wide open.

Scenario #1: Patriots sign Cassel, release/trade Tom Brady

In my opinion, this is the most likely scenario. The Patriots do not have a history of retaining players considered expendable (see: kicker Adam Vinatieri). Tom Brady suffered a serious knee injury and his recovery has been severely set back due to complications resulting from multiple infections. Brady's contract will be up in...you guessed, 2010. With no guarantee that Tom Brady will ever fully recover, the Patriots will cut him just as they cut Drew Bledsoe when he went down with injury and unknowingly enabled the genesis of the Tom Brady era in New England. Irony folks.

Scenario #2: Remain the backup QB for the Patriots

So let's say that Tom Brady has a miraculous recovery and is set to return in 2010 after a full season off. Brady signs a two year deal and Cassel once again finds himself backing up Tom Brady. This scenario is actually quite feasible: let's say Cassel has a below average season in 2009-2010...and all those big free-agent offers we all expect him to receive are simply not there anymore due to lack of performance. What then? Remain in the system and wait his turn. Like all quaterbacks, Tom Brady has an expiration date. Matt Cassel could remain the heir apparent to the franchise and the system in which he has been a part of since 2005.

Scenario #3: Sign with the San Francisco 49ers

I really like the idea and possibility of Cassel signing with the 49ers. A) Cassel is a California native B) The 49ers desperately need a seasoned QB who is not Alex Smith C) The 49ers have the type of big money to offer Cassel. I think Cassel is smart enough to know that if he betrays Bill Belichick...he better get far, far away from him and what better place than the opposite coast in the opposite conference. The NFC West has been the punching bag of the National Football Conference for the last couple of seasons. If the Arizona Cardinals easily won the division on a 9-7 record, this should say something about the overall quality of said division. Cassel could step in and create a blaze with the sparks put off by the 49ers in the second half of the 2008-2009 season. I also think Cassel would relish in battling Matt Leinart of the Cardinals twice a year, considering that Leinart beat out Cassel for the starting QB job at USC. Revenge is a dish best serve cold.

Scenario # 4: Sign with the St. Louis Rams

This is certainly the dark horse scenario, however it is still quite plausible. The Rams offer Cassel the same perks that the 49ers do: big money and to play in the NFC West. Cassel would play in a weak division, all while playing 8 home games a year in a dome. Also, the Rams are publicly up for sale and the city of Los Angeles is eager to bring them back to town. Anyone would have a hard time convincing me that Matt Cassel would not jump at the chance to return to Los Angeles where he was once relegated as the seemingly eternal backup quaterback for the USC Trojans. With running back Steven Jackson waiting to have another breakout season and Chris Long showing signs of becoming the defensive force of the team, the Rams could very easily be poised to make a serious playoff run under Matt Cassel.

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