"What'd they get for Cassel?" he demanded.
"The 34th pick."
"For Vrabel and Cassel."
"I don't know."
And that's the truth of it. I mean, I can cobble together plausible reasons for why the New England Patriots sent quarterback Matt Cassel and outside linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs for just a second round pick in April's draft. But none of them will fully explain why the Patriots settled for so little in return for a linebacker that was a Pro Bowler in 2007 and a quarterback who got called in cold to run an NFL team and won 11 games.
So here are some of the plausible reasons the Patriots let the pair go for relative peanuts.
1. Vrabel and Cassel were going to count close to $20 million combined against the 2009 salary cap. With Tom Brady on track for the opener, the Patriots needed Cassel's $14.6 million to make other moves. Vrabel's value to the Patriots, meanwhile, had outdistanced his cap number. Now, instead of bumping up against the $127 million cap, they have more than $20 million in space to spend.
3. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick felt particularly benevolent in dealing with Scott Pioli, the former Patriots VP of Player Personnel who went to Kansas City last month.
4. Adding a second-round pick gives New England three second-rounders in the draft and four picks in the first two rounds. Good for shoring up depleted rosters.
5. They sensed absolutely no developing market for Cassel and needed to pull the trigger.
6. The franchise is in an uncomfortable financial position because of the economic crisis, their exposure in the auction-rate bond market and their investment and development in Patriot Place, a huge outdoor mall connected to Gillette Stadium and had no stomach for running the risk of getting stuck with Cassel.
That's the best I can do.
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