The Patriots’ decision to place the non-exclusive franchise tag on quarterback Matt Cassel today – on the first possible day – creates a larger negotiating window with teams that might be interested in acquiring Cassel in a trade.
The Patriots had until Feb. 19 to make the decision.
The Patriots could also give Cassel’s representatives permission to speak with interested teams about a possible contract – a key piece because any trade for Cassel would have to include a long-term contract extension.
With those pieces needed to fall into place – working out trade compensation, as well as Cassel’s representatives working out a new deal – the team might be thinking that "the more time, the better."
It also allows more time for a potential market for Cassel to take shape.
This is the time of year when most clubs are finalizing their free-agent and offseason strategy, the calm before the storm. The official start of free agency, which is the first day that any trade could be finalized, is Feb. 27.