Did Bill Belichick swap Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round pick as a favor to a friend?
Hard to believe that's the case -- the hunch here is that he believes he can get a very promising player with that 34th pick, and one that won't affect the team's salary structure as, say, a top-10 pick would.
Yet the theory among many in the media after an intriguing weekend of wheeling and dealing is that Belichick sent Cassel and Vrabel to the Chiefs essentially out of the goodness of his heart.
Take it away, Don Banks:
. . . The second-round pick compensation the Chiefs gave up for both Cassel and fellow Patriot, linebacker Mike Vrabel, is so laughably low that we must ask whether Bill Belichick has grown soft before our very eyes?
First Tom Brady is caught numerous times looking like Gisele's well-dressed errand boy, now this. Belichick doing both Pioli and Cassel a huge favor by not demanding more than the 34th overall pick in the draft for two players who could have brought far more in value from about 30 other NFL teams.
Mr. Nice Guy, Bill Belichick. I don't know that we should get used to that idea, but in this case he unquestionably did a nice thing for two people he feels a kinship for and considers friends. And that's going to make us think a bit differently of Belichick's image and reputation for a while.
Circumstances surrounding the Matt Cassel trade keep getting curiouser and curiouser.
The more we learn, the more inexplicable it gets.
The New England Patriots sent Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs for the 34th overall selection in this year's draft, compensation that seemed a little weak on the surface.
ESPN's Chris Mortensen has since reported there was a much better offer on the table, that the Patriots passed on the 12th overall pick in a three-way trade that would've sent Denver Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Belichick knew he probably wasn't going to get a sweetheart deal. And last week, before the market opened, I'm told he never got offered a first-round pick by any team in trade. I'm also told he asked Pioli for the 34th pick in the draft -- nothing more -- and when Pioli told him he'd do it, they had a deal.
"Bill had to be nervous,'' said one club official briefed on the deal. "There was never any guarantee that any of those three-way trades was going to work, and they cropped up so late anyway. He could have been left with nothing if he lost the Chiefs.''
. . .I'm sure Belichick doesn't mind doing something good for Cassel (giving him his own promising team to pilot) and Pioli (giving him something better than Tyler Thigpen), but I believe if Denver offered Belichick its first-round pick last Thursday instead of, apparently, on Saturday, that Cassel would be a Bronco today and current Denver QB Jay Cutler a Buc or Lion.
There are, however, a couple of columnists who aren't ready to declare that Belichick has lost his mind. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports says the Patriots probably took the best deal they could get -- and he gets in a few shots at Mortensen in the process:
Thatís why New England took what Kansas City offered. Logic says it was all that was available.
Unless, when it comes to Bill Belichickís intelligence, you want to believe unknown sources over history and common sense.
And KC Star columnist Jason Whitlock offers a word of caution to Chiefs fans who think Pioli executed a heist of his former team. Several words, actually.
The acquisition of Cassel could be a Pioli ego trip. You get lucky, find Tom Brady in the seventh round, and it becomes easy to convince yourself youíve done it again with Cassel.
Thereís no objective reason to believe that Belichick didnít get the better end of the Cassel-Vrabel trade. Belichick doesnít do favors, even for his former co-workers/employees. Yeah, a second-round pick sounds like a steal for a 26-year-old QB who threw 21 TDs and for 3,600 yards and won 11 games in his first year as a starter.
I want to see Cassel do it without Randy Moss, who has a habit of elevating the play of every QB on his roster. Randall Cunningham and Jeff George had career years throwing to Moss. Brady shattered a plethora of league records lobbing rainbows to Moss.