It was a dark and stormy night...wait. Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by inch...scratch that. The door creaked as she opened it...that doesn't work either. Work with me, I need a good opening line!!
Sorry gang, anyway... I felt like friday was the day of a playoff game and I was pacing the house, not wanting to leave my computer. There was SO much going on and some of it slightly unexpected. I'll run down the moves as best I can and I'm sure links guru Marima will have a shotgun blast full of stuff in the next few days. Get it? Shot-gun blast? I kill myself.
Mike Vrabel to KC - Perennial fan favorite, OLB Mike Vrabel, was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for an undisclosed draft pick. Their could be many reasons why this happened and we may never know why the Patriots opted for this, but the most likely seem to be a) the Pats needed to make cap space as they'd take a 2009 hit of $4.3 million with the 33 year old vet and b) KC needed some experience. Oh, and if you slam the move as an old guy with little gas left in his tank, you've missed the point. KC is one of the youngest teams in football and is in dire need of veteran leadership. Mike will, most likely, join as a captain. This one hurt, folks. It cut deep. I'll miss watching Mike line up as a TE in red zone situations...but I won't miss it when he does it in a Chiefs uniform...playing against us.
Lonie Paxton to Denver - Long snapper, Lonie Paxton, heads for thinner air and the Denver Broncos. Lonie inked a $5 million five year deal with the Broncos which includes a $1 million signing bonus. This makes him the second highest paid long snapper in the biz. Does that sound like too much for a long snapper, a guy on the field for a total of a minute and a half all game? Not in my mind. Picture, if you will, a poorly snapped ball, floating over the head of the punter. The long snapper just gave the opposing team excellent field position instead of letting the kicker pin them near their endzone. Does $1 million per year still sound like a lot? I'm sure punter Chris Hanson is bummed.
Jabar Gaffney to Denver - #3 receiver, Jabar Gaffney, will be car pooling it out to the Denver Broncos with Paxton. Gaffney nets a 4 year $10 million deal with $4 million guaranteed. I was a bit harsh on Jabar this past season, some of it unwarranted given Randy was dropping balls, too. I just can't forget that free-and-clear drop against Pittsburgh. However, Gaffney has given us some moments to cheer about, too. HC Josh McDaniels knows what he's getting and will utilize him well. Jabar's contract was up and he was only making $700,000 a year, so he just got a raise.
Fred Taylor to NE - 11 year Jacksonville Jaguars' veteran RB, Fred Taylor, joins the Patriots backfield. Taylor visited both the Bills and the Patriots and decided Foxboro was the place to be. Who knows what was going through his head, but I gotta believe, based on what he was saying in the press about family members with rings, he's looking to acquire some hardware at the end of his career and thinks NE is the place to do it. I view Taylor as a veteran presence who'll rotate in and out to keep everyone's legs fresh. He was a gifted athlete in his youth and eschewed working out, but later learned his lesson as he got older. Let's hope so because BB won't put up with a slacker.
Chris Baker to NE - New York Jets' TE, Chris Baker, makes the move from Joisey to Foxboro. The financial terms weren't disclosed, but Baker was cut from the Jets before he earned a $9 million roster bonus. Baker was considered one of the top TE's on the market and is someone Belichick knows very well, having played against him twice a year. He's a versatile guy, considered just as good in blocking situations as he is in passing situations. I hope Brady can get him the ball, 'cause there's nothing I like more than seeing big tight ends run over little defensive backs.
Matt Cassel to ??? - Widely speculated Cassel would be part of a package deal to KC, nothing happened yesterday. Tampa Bay's FOX 13 intimated Matt would be wearing a Bucs uniform for 2009. The "Breaking News" even ended up in Matt's Wikipedia entry, but was pulled hours later as rumors went unsubstantiated.