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Patriots may use the "F" word with Matt Cassel

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No, not THAT "F" word.  Get your mind out of the gutter!  But the "F" word they may use is just as bad: FRANCHISE.  There are many options when players reach the end of their contracts:

  • Unrestricted Free Agent - the club they're with doesn't move to renew the contract.  They are free to entertain offers from other clubs.
  • Restricted Free Agent - before a player can sign with a new club, their current club has a chance to match the offer.
  • Franchise Tag - the definitions are fairly wordy, so I'll cut/paste from wikipedia.org:
  • An "exclusive" franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position as of a date in April of the current year in which the tag will apply, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. Exclusive franchise players cannot negotiate with other teams.
  • A "non-exclusive" franchise player must be offered a one-year contract for an amount no less than the average of the top five salaries at the player's position in the previous year, or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. A non-exclusive franchise player may negotiate with other NFL teams, but if he signs an offer sheet from another team, the original team has a right to match the terms of that offer, or if it does not match the offer and thus loses the player, is entitled to receive two first-round draft picks as compensation.
  • It is the team's choice whether it uses an exclusive or a non-exclusive franchise tag. While it may seem that a team would always choose the exclusive option, there are two reasons a team might prefer the non-exclusive option instead. The first is that the salary is based on the top 5 salaries of the previous year instead of the current year, which could be a significant difference. The second reason is that a team may want the opportunity for the two first-round draft picks they would receive if they lost their player.

The average of the top 5 players at that position nets MC a salary ranging from roughly 12M to 14M.  Cap space for NFL teams will be raised from 116M to 123M in 2009, but the combination of Brady and a franchised Cassel will cost the team 29M.  According to reliable sources, the franchise tag seems a forgone conclusion and we talked about this as early as November 25th.  Yup, we're that smart and ahead of the curve.

With an injury as severe as Brady's, there's no telling how long it will take for Wonder Boy to heal -gulp- if at all.  The stories swirling around the recovery of Tom Brady's knee are getting ridiculous.  NBC Sport's Tom Curran plays the "reading into statements by the Boston Globe" game in an effort to justify his existence.  Basing a story and opinion on the "tone" of another story is spin doctoring, not journalism.  Facts are facts and the only fact that matters is whether or not Brady attends training camp, participates in the pre-season games, and starts during the regular season.  Until then, any conjecture about his status by the media is a friggin' lie.  The Patriots organization isn't going to say jack and neither is Tom.  If any stupid, low level trainer opens his mouth, he should be paraded around Foxborough Center in a diaper and face paint.

This is the only option, albeit an expensive one.  With 3 years carrying a clipboard and 1 year leading the team to a hair's breadth of the AFC East Championship, MC has a Duck Boat load of experience in the Patriots system.  The last 3 or 4 games, he developed a relationship with Moss and all the receivers, he's mobile, he makes good decisions, and he's being talked about by other franchises.  I think that's enough to convince the team and the fanbase.  Besides, what's the other option?  Bring on a veteran for a year or 2 until Brady's ready?

I hear Brett Favre is available...