CBS Sportsline is reporting that the New England Patriots will use their franchise tag on QB Matt Cassel.
The Patriots' plan for Cassel was first reported by the National Football Post.
"It's been talked about quite a bit (publicly)," Patriots spokesman Stacey James said Monday. "We won't be commenting on it until something happens. And if we don't use it (the tag), we probably won't comment."
David Dunn, Cassel's agent, did not return telephone calls seeking comment.
Without a franchise tag, Cassel would become an unrestricted free agent starting Feb. 27. The period in which a team can designate a franchise player is Feb. 5 to Feb. 19.
A team can put the franchise tag on one player a year. It would have to pay that player at least the minimum of the average of the five highest salaries of players at the same position, estimated at $14 million for Cassel.
From a fantasy standpoint, this would be gigante. It would mean two things:
1) The Patriots are worried about Tom Brady being ready. Not just worried, but worried enough that they'll pay Cassel a whopping $14 million to carry a clipboard. If this was a timing issue (Brady will be at camp late, he might not be able to start until Week 3, etc) the Pats would likely pick up a veteran QB for that time. This is a concern about the entire season. If the Patriots are worried, you should be worried. Tom Brady could be worth a first round fantasy pick or be a complete bust next season, and you might not know the answer until after the season starts.
2) Matt Cassel might be worthless next season. You know what I just said about Brady and first round pick and bust? The same thing applies to Matt Cassel. If he starts for the Pats, he's a great fantasy QB. If he sits on the bench, he's worthless. If he had signed with the Vikings or the Lions, at least you could analyze the situation and determine his worth. If he's franchised, you have to analyze the status of Tom Brady's knee. Good luck with that. Change your browser bookmark from Rotonews to WebMD.
Correction, three things!
3) Hey, I just thought of this: What if Brady comes back healthy in Week 6, and Cassel has led the team to a 5-0 record? Do the Pats really bench Cassel? "Just take a seat Tom, the kid is doing fine". What if Cassel does to Brady what Brady did to Drew Bledsoe? Yeah, it would be very karmic, but damn, then what? All the analysis says Brady will be back in Week 6, you draft him in Round 5 based on that, he comes back on schedule and then sits? Wow, what a fantasy disaster that could be.