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Free rein in Foxborough

Posted by Charles P. Pierce March 5, 2009 06:59 AM

All right, as nearly as I can determine, it's going to take Julius Peppers or someone to make Bill Belichick a genius again. Otherwise, he's traded (at worst) a perfectly suitable intact NFL quarterback -- and a perfectly suitable and relatively intact NFL linebacker -- to the Kansas City Chiefs in return for a bag of magic beans. The only way the complicated transaction that sent Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the land of milk and barbecue sauce makes any kind of sense is if its ultimate purpose was to clear enough space under the salary cap to bring in a free agent like Peppers, thereby shoring up an aging defense that was the prime non-Brady’s-knee reason the Patriots weren’t good enough for the playoffs last season.

Re-establishing Belichick’s reputation as the World’s Smartest Human is a formidable job for Peppers, heretofore a terrific defensive lineman, or for whoever else the Patriots might hire with the money that otherwise would have gone to Cassel and Vrabel. They’re going to have enough trouble learning the complicated New England defensive schemes without having the burden of playing so well that Bill Belichick will be smart again. (I’ve already heard one radio genius deplore a possible Peppers signing because Peppers hasn’t ever played in a 3-4 defense, thereby confusing the Patriots’ defensive huddle with a fusion lab. Trust me. He can pick it up.) However, the commentary since the two Patriots were shuffled out of town suggests that it may not be such a difficult job after all.

Anytime anyone brags again about what a tough, unsparing sports town this is, point them toward the past weekend. Every single argument for what the Patriots did boils down simply to “Bill Knows Best.” Period. This child-like faith came not only from civilians, but from a great number of the former football players who have taken jobs in the local commentariat.

“Well, Bill sees them every day in practice, so don’t you think he knows his value better than you do?”

Well, yes, but if you adopt this position universally, then you can board things up along Guest Street and bring Jerry Williams back from the dead. (For the sake of argument, we’ll leave out the fact that some hard-bitten analysts might have obvious personal financial motives to stay on the sunny side of the folks at Patriot Place.) This is an astonishing assertion to make in the argument era, especially coming from people who have no compunction at all about opining on national and international issues, despite being fathoms out of their depth. Try it out some time on your favorite radio star.

“Well, President Obama sees all the data every day, so don’t you think he knows what’s going on with the economy better than you do, as a day-trading talk-show host?”

And welcome to the Whiner Line opening for the next 10 years.

Simply restricted to sports, the notion is even more untenable. Danny Ainge certainly has earned a measure of credibility as the architect of a championship basketball team, but he took some heat for taking This Space’s advice and signing both Stephon Marbury and the tattoo on the side of his head. Nobody would seriously try to make the point that “Well, Danny’s seen more of the films and knows the players better than you do, so don’t you think he’s better able to make that decision than you are?” There seemed to be a lot of pros and cons being tossed around over whether the Red Sox should re-sign Jason Varitek, but I didn’t once hear the argument that, well, Theo Epstein knows more about baseball than all the rest of us, so whatever he does must be correct.

Honestly, now, talk-radio surrendering the debate to actual expertise?

Unpossible!

If it were just winning that brought on this kind of reaction, that would be understandable. But it’s more than that. Consider, from history, the case of Don Cherry. Now, by any objective measure, Cherry was Don Zimmer without the plate in his head. In the biggest game of his coaching life — Game 7 against Montreal in 1979 — Cherry faced a critical moment and found himself unable to count to six. Moreover, his teams were chockablock with goonish clowns, and one of those teams brawled with fans long before the Indiana Pacers made it a National Crisis back in 2004. (Only a cynic would point out that the pigmentation of the athletes may account for the difference in public reaction.) However, despite being a manifest bungler in the clutch, and a purveyor of the worst elements of his sport, Cherry was and is still looked on fondly hereabouts as one of our own “characters,” in many cases by people who ought to know better. Last weekend, he proved that he’s just as sharp as ever by ripping Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, who is only the most exciting athlete his sport has seen in over a decade. This had something to do with Cherry’s fatheaded xenophobia, but it was tantamount to hearing Chuck and Kenny the Jet on TNT, longing for someone to take that James kid in Cleveland down a peg.

Now, Bill Belichick will never be the dunce Don Cherry is, but he has made mistakes, and he will make several dozen more. This deal with Kansas City may turn out to be one of them. At least this one won’t cost the franchise three-quarters of a million dollars, if it’s all right with everyone if I bring that up again.

OT columnist Charles P. Pierce is a Boston Globe Magazine staff writer.

117 comments so far...
  1. Still beating this dead horse? Welcome to last week. Maybe you can write another Manny column.

    Posted by rob March 4, 09 10:54 PM
  1. Who is this clown?

    Posted by Topher Waitsfield March 5, 09 07:36 AM
  1. Well... Bill certainly knew better about Matt Cassel than you or me or anyone else did back in September. Remember the hoards crying for Cassel to be traded after his horrendous preseason play?

    Between the malcontents he's brought in who turned out pretty good, and the players he's released or traded over the years, Belichick has a pretty good track record. We can guess all we want, but in the end I'm going to have more faith in what Bill does than what ESPN, SI, NFL Network or WEEI thinks he should do. Where's the shame in trusting the experts, when in fact they do know better?

    Posted by Marima March 5, 09 07:43 AM
  1. Talk about a dunce...what don't you get here...they had to francise this kid to protect losing him as a free agent...if that happened they would recieved a 3rd or 4th round pick, they got a high 2nd...no one knows what went on the past month but my money is on they tried to redo vrabels contract and he did not want to give up any money and yes is the people who see him everyday feel he is not worth 4.4 million this year I'll go with that. Thier record os very good on knowing when to let people go if the price is to high....By making the deal when they did it gives them first shot at number of free agents to fill out the team. Makes sense to me

    Posted by Ken March 5, 09 07:53 AM
  1. Do they pay you to write this crap?

    Posted by Jean Bissonnette March 5, 09 07:55 AM
  1. ok, you say trading an aging lainebacker is bad, then you say an aging defense was the problem last year

    Yeah, you know what you're talking about

    Posted by godinagreyhoodie March 5, 09 08:05 AM
  1. It's hard to believe that Belichick and company made these trades without a thought to the future. I don't buy the "packaging a nice gift for Pioli" business. I have to believe, with Belichick's ability to pull the proverbial rabbit-out-of-the-hat, that something is in the works and we'll just have to wait and see. And, I don't buy the "better to have a 2nd round pick than 1st round one" either. Who in their right mind would suggest that have more options is a BAD thing? No, this trade is hard to figure, but I don't think they were asleep at the wheel. Something's up, and we'll just have to wait and see.

    Posted by Jim W. March 5, 09 08:10 AM
  1. Your comments about WEEI are spot on. Rush Ordway is as ignorant a person as there is in this world. But that does not stop him from talking about things that he knows nothing about.

    34 for Cassel was fine. Vrabel deserved to retire as a Patriot. As a fan, I am not pleased.

    Posted by Anonymous March 5, 09 08:10 AM
  1. Wow, "Bill Got Stupid" should be a headline somewhere, I guess.

    "The only way the complicated transaction that sent Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the land of milk and barbecue sauce makes any kind of sense is if its ultimate purpose was to clear enough space under the salary cap to bring in a free agent like Peppers"

    That's the only way? Otherwise, it was just Bill-being-Manny?

    Could it be that the only dance partner for the Pats was KC? That all the other 3-way, 4-way, or 11-way trade speculations were either just speculation or after-the-fact inventions?

    Could it be that Vrabel was actually going to be cut, as some have suggested?

    Could the cap space be needed to preserve some of the cogs already on the team before they decide to test the free agency market next year?

    Could there be some other explanation for these seemingly-imponderable happenings? After all, the thinking behind every other NFL player transaction has been been obvious the second it occurred.

    Nope. None of that is possible. We must only conclude that either Bill is now officially Stupid, or Julius Peppers is walking through that door today, or at worst tomorrow.

    Either veteran scribes can clearly seem results immediately, or Bill has lost it. No need to wait until the draft, or training camp, or (heaven help us) the actual NFL season.

    Posted by Joe Strazzere March 5, 09 08:13 AM
  1. Geez, Charlie, can you ever write a column without having to show us what a witty, sardonic guy you are? You made a point, so back it up with facts or something to support your argument. You lost me on trying to be funny with the Don Cherry stuff. I was waiting for you to make a point. But I should have known. I read "Pierced" every Sunday and it's the same thing: point, blah, blah, blah, summary. It's getting old.

    Posted by paul March 5, 09 08:16 AM
  1. don't be shocked if it's more of a jason taylor moment- he'd be a perfect fit in the 3-4 as a stand up outside backer.

    Posted by tlecro March 5, 09 08:18 AM
  1. As yes 'the buck stops here'. Comparing a football expert - who yes knows football, his staff and players - to the president and the economy is well, just stupid. I would trust Bill in choosing the right players for football then W. or Obama choosing the right people to fix the economy or the war.

    Posted by ZH_Pats March 5, 09 08:24 AM
  1. Well... Bill certainly knew better about Matt Cassel than you or me or anyone else did back in September. Remember preseason?.

    Between the malcontents he's brought in against everyone’s advice who turned out pretty darn good, and the players he's released or traded over the years, Belichick has a terrific track record. We can guess all we want, but in the end I'm going to have more faith in what Bill does than what ESPN, SI, NFL Network or WEEI thinks he should do. You condescend about childlike faith, but isn’t it a sign of maturity to trust the expert, when in fact they do know better?

    Posted by Marima March 5, 09 08:24 AM
  1. Apparently Chuck, you did zero research for this piece. Just by browsing a couple of credible papers and doing some back checking, the majority of national media/ "football experts" thought that the Pats would never get a first-round pick. But since, they're opinions have certainly changed in order to try and sell more papers in the form of controversy. As for your Peppers argument. I'm going to put, this nicely, you're nuts. You trade Cassel, not only to parlay the 7th round pick you used on him into something of value, but he was going to make nearly $15 million! They were unable to sign anyone before the deal was done, and took a restructuring of Moss's deal to sign Fred Taylor. So, instead of locking Wilfork up long term, you would rather sign a guy, who has never played in a 3-4 scheme, would be presumably an OLB in it (which oh ya, has no body of work in). Oh ya, Peppers is franchised too, he's not a free agent, so you're looking at picks and huge money. Peppers would command in that $8-10 million range, guaranteeing you lose Wilfork or Mankins or Seymour. All these guys are in contract years and are huge anchors on the offensive and defensive lines.I think Bill is doing just fine if you look at the big picture and sure I'd like to see Peppers here, but for that money keep him.

    Posted by Rob D March 5, 09 08:30 AM
  1. BB has made his shear of mistakes, but moves on. Maroney started out like a house on fire, and look at him now. He should be on Dancing with the Stars.

    Posted by Amalfi March 5, 09 08:33 AM
  1. Apparently Chuck, you did zero research for this piece. Just by browsing a couple of credible papers and doing some back checking, the majority of national media/ "football experts" thought that the Pats would never get a first-round pick. But since, they're opinions have certainly changed in order to try and sell more papers in the form of controversy. As for your Peppers argument. I'm going to put, this nicely, you're nuts. You trade Cassel, not only to parlay the 7th round pick you used on him into something of value, but he was going to make nearly $15 million! They were unable to sign anyone before the deal was done, and took a restructuring of Moss's deal to sign Fred Taylor. So, instead of locking Wilfork up long term, you would rather sign a guy, who has never played in a 3-4 scheme, would be presumably an OLB in it (which oh ya, has no body of work in). Oh ya, Peppers is franchised too, he's not a free agent, so you're looking at picks and huge money. Peppers would command in that $8-10 million range, guaranteeing you lose Wilfork or Mankins or Seymour. All these guys are in contract years and are huge anchors on the offensive and defensive lines.I think Bill is doing just fine if you look at the big picture and sure I'd like to see Peppers here, but for that money, keep him.

    Posted by Rob D March 5, 09 08:33 AM
  1. Julius Peppers? I don't think you get it at all. The Patriots are trying to get younger, especially at linebacker. They made good strides in that area last year through the draft and will certainly do that again. Also, next year 9 very important players are eligible for free agency. The team needs money now to redo some of those contracts a year early, or the sky will be falling for sure. The Vrabel move reduced cap, saved money, and jettisoned an aging player with diminishing skills at the linebacker position. Had they not franchised Cassel, they would get virtually nothing for him, but now they have a very good pick in exchange for him. You can't evaluate NFL ttrades in a vaccuum. You have to consider financial impact as well.

    Posted by Tommy March 5, 09 08:42 AM
  1. What is the fascination with Julius Peppers?!?!? I don't get it. Against the Pats in the SB (when he was younger and faster), he got completely abused by our TE Daniel Graham....all day long. He wasn't even a factor in the game. Yeah, he runs around and gets a few sacks in the NFC, but why on Earth would BB want to spend that much money on an overrated DE? Enough with the Peppers talk...jeez. Now I think Taylor would be a much better fit and a much better price. He's already friends with a number of the Pats...i think he's got more in the tank and would be money better spent.

    Posted by Ytsejamer1 March 5, 09 08:52 AM
  1. Typical Charley Pierce - wordy and opiniated.

    Posted by Anonymous March 5, 09 09:04 AM
  1. I think the reaction from fans initially about Vrabel was a sentimental one. The point by talk-radio guys(can't believe i'm defending them) was that Belichick is usually right when he makes these unsentimental decisions. More often than not when there's been an outcry about a player Belichick lets leave(Milloy, Law, McGinest, Vinatieri, Branch), he is proven right over the long term. Also, that cap space could go to extensions for Wilfork, Mankins and others, it doesn't have to go to a free agent like Peppers.

    Posted by Dean March 5, 09 09:07 AM
  1. Is this person paid, or is this a work release program or something?

    Posted by Wayne March 5, 09 09:11 AM
  1. Why talk about them trading Vrabel who's going to be 34 and then talk about the defense aging? Bill and the Pats have been trying to make the defense younger each season and it's funny that you keep bring up aging. Last I knew, bringing in young players and stockpiling them through the draft brings the age down. If you are talking about aging defense from 3 years ago then fine, but since then they've been bringing in younger players. Does no one pay attention?

    Posted by Rich March 5, 09 09:14 AM
  1. Oh, you're going to get hammered for that column. How dare you taint the anointed one with realism, you heathen! Get out your #12 jersey, pop in the DVD of SB 38, and watch until you have tears in your eyes.

    Posted by Purds March 5, 09 09:14 AM
  1. Coach Bill is not Mac the Knife, he's not Pete the Poodle, he's not ML Carr, he's not Grady Little. Season after season the Patriots players and coaches change but Belichick gives them a chance to win. Players deserve the credit for their performance, but it's Coach Bill who gives them the gameplan. He actually DOES know more about football than anyone else and even though you make a strong argument, I'm comfortable going along with the "In Bill We Trust" mantra. Not because I'm a lemming, but because he has earned that kind of support. He's the exception. If Theo or Tito or Danny make deals, we pick them apart, but with Belichick, it just doesn't feel right. The only thing that would really worry me about the Patriots is if HE left.

    Posted by Justin March 5, 09 09:14 AM
  1. Ummmm??? CP Pierce, how do you expect the Pats either hold $28,000,000 in cap space or sign Cassel, who presumably would want a starters pay check and spot. nice job referencing the Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins, but whats your point. stay with your own tour

    Posted by phil March 5, 09 09:19 AM
  1. Charles Pierce...get a clue. The Pats started Free Agency with about $2 mil, and almost half of that thanks to a Randy Moss restructure. So lets say that this aoffseason was all about VALUE. Pick 34 may be close to the highest value spot in the draft. If a team has a contrarian draft board (safe to assume for the pats?) then they have a nice shot at getting one of 'their first round' guys at 34 for 2nd round $$. But the Pats had to move swiftly, as they needed to lock up some of their free own agents and be able to be oportunistic (ie, Fred Taylor) Anyone who believes that tagging Cassell was a mistake lives on the moon. Now that he's tagged, they had to take the best deal _on_the_table! Sure, after seeing the haul that KC got for a 2nd round pick, other teams groused that they had better offers -- BUT NONE OF THEM WERE ON THE TABLE. Damage control by other GM's after the fact -- perhaps motivated by their fear of their QB's being outperformed by Cassell -- is understandable...but doesn't shake my trust in BB. Sometimes the media has to ask itself "Is this really a controversy?" and "Is my credibity worth more than trying to make something out of nothing?" I realize you may feel you have little to lose ;)

    Posted by Jay Johnson March 5, 09 09:21 AM
  1. Peppers is just as old as all of the pieces of our defense last year that you called "aging."

    So wouldn't adding him just add to the problem ?

    We need young defensive players not over-payed 32 year olds. Getting Peppers wouldn't re-establish BB as a genius it'd decrease my faith in humanity to record lows.

    Posted by Cdawg March 5, 09 09:27 AM
  1. I would say get Jason Taylor use him at OLB. Peppers will want to much... Now if you get TO and teach him the same way he taught Moss "it's the name on the front of the jersey not the back that matters" I think we go 19-0 and BB's legend is secured!!

    Posted by Mike March 5, 09 09:31 AM
  1. A completely ridiculous skein of nada... So many columnists and fans are doing the second guessing thing, staring into their crystal balls and declaring the season dead before its even a gleam in its fathers eyes. Silly really. Does anybody remember the moaning and groaning when Bill drafted Richard Seymour? Seems to me that worked out okay. Anybody remember the drafting of Asante Samuel? Seem to me that worked out okay. Anybody remember all of the good players that have contributed to team after team in the Belichik era? Where do they come from and how do they get here? Bill does it, every year. Anybody remember three super bowl wins in four trips? Anybody? Bill does that. My advice to all of you and this writer in particular is please be quiet and sit back and watch the show. Tthe Pats, as always under Belichick, will be competitive. Frankly that is all a fan can ask for. Of course the idiot who wrote this article has to write stuff like this because its his job, not because he has anything remotely interesting of pithy to say, other than that the sky is falling.

    Posted by Spoiled child of victory March 5, 09 09:34 AM
  1. Since I've never read your blog before, I'll bet you were one of the many who wanted to cut Cassels after his poor pre-season form. Fortunately, the people who make those decisions showed they knew best. How can you pass judgement when a) You are not privy to developments leading up to the transaction? b) It is March and the 2009 roster is, by no means complete and, most of all, c) You have no experience or background as a NFL general manager, head coach or former player. "Trust in Bill." Why not? He is entitled to our giving him that, since he has the credentials and past accomplishments to deserve our trust. What are your credentials?
    To borrow your first sentence -"As nearly as I can determine" , your blog is a waste of my time and you can be assured that this is the first and last time I will bother to
    waste my time reading it. Unless, of course, you can document a), b) and c) and
    prove you are qualified to pass judgement. Until then, I'll wait until the team goes to training camp to express my opinion of the 2009 New England Patriots.

    P.S. Does "OT Columnist" stand for Off Track, because in my humble opinion what I think you are!


    that's what ?


    read it. Unless, of course, you can expla

    Posted by Les Taylor March 5, 09 09:35 AM
  1. Peppers would eat up all the cap space and allow NOTHING else. I don't buy that Peppers is a fit for the PATS. Jason Taylor is as good a fit and far less expensive and has the same issues...he hasn't played stranding up in a 3-4. You build a team not a collection of talent. Look at Vilma. Great in college and couldn't perform in the 3-4 to the same level of sucess. Some people fit one scheme better than others. Why is Wilfork so valuable to the PATS? Because not every DT can play the nose. But the main reason Peppers won't be in NE is financial. He is franchised at over 16mm. Articles like this are a waste of time and now that I've wasted my time commenting, write another article that's value can only be seen while sitting in the bathroom.


    Posted by Spartacus Green March 5, 09 09:36 AM
  1. Did Ron Borges come back to us as this mope? Since when is respecting a coach's decision about his team 'child-like'? This must be the part of the season when the Shaugnessy-wannabes try to drum up readership with terrible op-ed pieces. The New England Patriots are not managed by or coached by the court of public opinion. That would be the Raiders. Or the Lions. Or the Bengals. One of those teams that suck.

    Posted by Ghost of Lombardi March 5, 09 09:36 AM
  1. Matt Cassel came with a $14.6 million price tag and cap hit. Do you not understand this? Not only do the Patriots gain cap space by trading him, the trading partner LOSES cap space by signing him. It’s one thing if Cassel was making $2.5 million, it’s quite another if he’s making as much as Tom Brady. On top of this, the Pats controlled where Cassel went, i.e. not to the Jets, Dolphins, Bills, or other AFC rivals like the BRONCOS. Finally, Vrabel is washed up, just like Bruschi. But Bruschi's cap figure is $2 million, while Vrabel's was $3.4 million. The weakening Pats defense can’t handle having Vrabel AND Bruschi on the team anymore, they are too old and too slow, regardless of how smart and experienced they are. Now they have a bunch of early picks in the draft as well as cap space to sign them and free agents if needed. Before, they had fewer picks and no cap space. This is why the trade was not a fleecing, as you suggest.

    Posted by Mark Daniel March 5, 09 09:43 AM
  1. I totally disgree with you. Peppers won't be in NE for two reasons. The compensation to get him will be too high and he is due 16mm as a franchise DE and although it won't actually cost 16mm in 2009 cap money it will eat up all that's left. Peppers will stop all other moves except cutting people.

    Furthermore, he has never played standing in the 3-4 so his skills are unknown. Why do you think Wilfork is so valuable. Not every DT can play the nose. Vilma was great in college but his skills didn't translate to the 3-4 that well.

    You don't just collect talent. You build a team and taking the system into account is important.

    This Peppers talk is a waste of time and it won't happen. Jason Taylor has never played up in the 3-4 but he wouldn't cost any compensation and would be less of a cap hit. Talk about Taylor, if you have nothing better to write about but Peppers talk is a waste of time and should only be read while on the john. No offense.


    Posted by SpartacusGreen March 5, 09 09:58 AM
  1. besides Bruschi..the defense isnt old..at all..the secondary is actually fairly young and inexperienced it just needs players..The DL are in their prime....they just didnt make the plays last year they werent old. That a really cliched statement around here....and they traded a perfectly capable QB because they had to..they cant keep 2 QB's getting paid like starters....losing Vrable hurt since he was such a big part of this team..but besides that...this wasnt that big of a deal....they would rather have 3 second round picks that 2 first....Come on Charlie..you're smarter than this

    Posted by jc March 5, 09 10:03 AM
  1. Yeah, a perfectly suitable NFL quarterback that would have made it so their QBs cost them $29 million... of course they can afford to pay that type of money for their QBs. It was that type of financing that helped win them 3 Superbowls... Not! And then the NFL linebacker that was obviously slowing down last year which would have cost them $6 million on the cap this year, counting the $1.8 million pro-rated amount from his original bonus that is no longer on the Pats salary cap books. So they saved themselves $19 million on the cap with that trade, and got an early 2nd round pick to boot. Sorry, at the very least, it doesn't make Belichick look any less smart.

    Yeah, KC did good. They got a few of the pieces to the puzzle that they needed. But the Pats did good too. They didn't need either of those pieces either, and that second round pick could end up being a player they do need. Every buyer in the NFL knew they were trying to get rid of Cassel, and he wasn't going to get much better a deal than he got.. If the Broncos really offered a deal that was that much better, Belichick would have accepted it... I don't believe that they did. Whether they get Peppers or not, this NE fan is happy with the transaction as it went.

    When I got to the part of your article where you started telling us that the coach who has won 3 Superbowl championships needs to prove he is 'smart' again, I had to stop reading it. I think that paragraph proved who isn't too smart when it comes to salary cap football.

    Posted by Max March 5, 09 10:07 AM
  1. Losing Vrabel is a tough pill to swallow. I don't care who we bring in, just win the Superbowl, and all this is forgotten.

    Posted by Jillian March 5, 09 10:16 AM
  1. Are you serious, Charles P. Pierce? You're an idiot. What credentials do you have to make up this crap? Did you play football? Did you coach football? Were you a GM for 15 years? Did you take "Managing the Cap 101" at Bob's College of Knowledge? Oh, you're just some guy with a laptop. SHUT UP! Bill Belichick is an excellent coach and team builder (the word genius is thrown around too often, but he's probably a genius, too). They NEED to bring in Julius Peppers?! How so? Why is that the sole criteria for becoming a genius again? Because you thought of it? This is absolute crap. You're journalistic license should be revoked. It is dumb to pay an outside guy sick money ($15M/yr+) in front of a guy who is underpaid and has been a workhorse and team leader (Wilfork). What kind of "team" message does that send? If you work hard, we'll dump you. That's not the right incentive. And you have NO IDEA how Peppers would fit into the system. Have you read the playbook? Do you know how Peppers is in coverage? And do you remember just TWO YEARS ago Peppers DISAPPEARED. Last year, he returned to form, sure. But do you want to bet $15M/yr that this year would mirro last year and not two years ago? And this deal was a great example of arbitrage. It was brilliant. He took a POSSIBLE fourth round pick next year (late third technically Cassel went somewhere else and was successful) and turned it into a CERTAIN second rounder this year. Arbitrage. No cost. Pure magic. Wallah. Basically Bill turned nothing into something. I understand people wanted MORE something, but it was more important to get a deal done then to hope that the high second rounder (essentially a first rounder for cheap) turned into a mid-first rounder. The Pats don't want a high first rounder anyhow. And THIS is the year you want that second rounder. This draft is DEEP for the Patriots needs. Vrabel would have been cut anyway and so trading his was a favor from Bill and Pioli to Mike . . . not a favor to Pioli. Seriously, do some research and write me back, punk. khyzak@gmail.com.


    Posted by Kevin H March 5, 09 10:18 AM
  1. Charles Pierce,

    Can I ask you a question....What the Fugazzi do you know????? Don Cherry was a fantastic coach (ticky tack call made by the refs in a crucial game...everyone knows the Bs got hosed...not Don's fault ). Bill B. has made many moves over the years that have made you wonder and they have always worked out to the benefit of the Pats. I will trust the man who has brought 3 championships to this region ( although it maybe childlike ) because HE knows what he is doing. Tell Bob Ryan I said Hi.

    Posted by Anonymous March 5, 09 10:19 AM
  1. Hey Charlie:
    You are wasting your life as a writer, you should be a general manager of a NFL team. It's the sportswriters that tagged Belichick " the genius ".
    I would wait until free agency and the draft is over to write an opinion. You Boston sportswriters are well known to come up with egg on your face.

    Posted by Sherm March 5, 09 10:25 AM
  1. From the story: "The only way the complicated transaction that sent Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the land of milk and barbecue sauce makes any kind of sense is if its ultimate purpose was to clear enough space under the salary cap to bring in a free agent like Peppers."

    Wrong. The Cassel/Vrabel trade was smart if the new salary room allows for the re-signing of two or three of these potential 2010 free agents: Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymour, Stephen Gostkowski, Kevin Faulk, Logan Mankins, and Stephen Neal.

    If Belichick can bring in a young, free agent linebacker, too – all the better.

    Posted by bidemytime March 5, 09 10:27 AM
  1. man. you are the very definition of an obtuse blowhard. Is Cliff Clavin your brother?

    Posted by Alex March 5, 09 10:37 AM
  1. First if you think Don Cherry is the only one saying ths you better open your ears,second your listening to eei to much , public opinion on cassel trade 50 50 at best, you know how you know you wrote a good story , when you stir the pot and people are commenting left and right , well I'm #1 nuff said

    Posted by joesig March 5, 09 10:37 AM
  1. Let me try again!
    Who is this idiot?

    Posted by Topher Waitsfield March 5, 09 10:37 AM
  1. A good article ruined by a cheap shot. I expected better from you.

    Posted by Anonymous March 5, 09 10:44 AM
  1. I can't believe you actually get paid to write this drivel! The only thing you have demonstrated is your utter lack of knowledge about how NFL football much less the Patriots work.

    Bringing in Julius Peppers will just put them right back in the situation they were desperate to get out of: being strangulated by the cap. It will take away the free agency/draft flexibility they have. Thank God BB does not give in to the temptation of making a "sexy" signing or draft. None one of you guys predicted Mayo or even called that a "sexy' pick, but look what a stalwart player he was this season.

    Posted by patspsycho March 5, 09 10:46 AM
  1. So you are saying keeping Cassell at 14 mil would have been smart?? Then not sending Vrable a 4 mil hit and maybe on the back side of his career like McGinest was also not smart.
    As I see it he opened up a whole lot of salary space to sign some guys here now and some FA as well as draft spots for a younger team.

    So what is the big mistake?????

    Posted by Anonymous March 5, 09 10:46 AM
  1. So you are saying keeping Cassell at 14 mil would have been smart?? Then not sending Vrable a 4 mil hit and maybe on the back side of his career like McGinest was also not smart.
    As I see it he opened up a whole lot of salary space to sign some guys here now and some FA as well as draft spots for a younger team.

    So what is the big mistake?????

    Posted by James A Chandler Bradenton FL March 5, 09 10:47 AM
  1. I have to disagree with you on this on. I think the trade was pretty good, considering that the perceived market value for Cassel was pretty low due to the prevailing opinion that he won't be able to replicate his success without an elite offense around him. Clearly, there wasn't a line of teams beating down their door to trade for his services. Plus, the Pats don't have any leverage in the situation because everyone knew that they were tagging Cassel so that they could get something in a trade. I think most teams knew that if they waited long enough, they could pick up Cassel at a bargain. Look at it this in a different way: Cassel would have walked if they didn't tag him, so what the Pats were able to do was essentially turn Vrabel into a high second round pick by throwing in Cassel (who was an asset that they couldn't really keep anyway). I think BB was hoping that the market would be a little better for Cassel, but it wasn't. I thought it was a reasonable bet to take. Just because it didn't pay off big doesn't make the guy and idiot, does it?

    Posted by mikeruk March 5, 09 10:49 AM
  1. First Julius Peppers is not a free agent....a trade would have to be worked out with Carolina.....so just signing him is not as easy as you make it sound. Also, he is a DE and last time I checked we had a couple high priced starters in Seymour and Warren with a solid back up in Green, now at those spots. Is he an OLB all of a sudden? Could he probably fill that role yes.....will Adalius Thomas be back healthy next year, yes......can you build through the draft to bring depth to OLB, yes. Better to shore up the secondary then spend allot on a Peppers type player when your current expenditure at same position is high. The lack of production on the DE line was based on poor coverage, too many open receivers to quickly.

    Posted by Chris Vitto March 5, 09 11:05 AM
  1. Wow. That's what I call bitter and frustrated.
    Nobody every said Belichick was the smartest human. Bob Craft and Patriots fans don't want the smartest human, only the best coach in the NFL. Apparently 4 Superbowl appearances in the last 8 years doesn't qualify Belichick as the best coach in the NFL. Naturally everyone wanted more for Cassel, but the market wasn't there. The Pats started shopping Cassel a month ago. It is ridiculous to think if they waited 12 more hours, a huge offer would have majically appeared.

    Posted by Anonymous March 5, 09 11:07 AM
  1. Its quite apparent that no one EVER confused Charlie Pierce with an intelligent man

    Posted by William F Buckley March 5, 09 11:08 AM
  1. Bringing in Pepper's for 3 trillion dollars per year AND surrendering 15 #1 draft picks? Keep writing about football, eventaually through osmosis some knowledge might stick.

    Posted by Dave G. March 5, 09 11:22 AM
  1. Bwahahah!

    Just another embittered Globe writer, feeling like he has to have Chad Finn's back. You know you suckle at the teat of WEEI, so why can't you say it by name instead of "talk-radio"?

    Posted by Lowest C. Denominator March 5, 09 11:25 AM
  1. "e’ll leave out the fact that some hard-bitten analysts might have obvious personal financial motives to stay on the sunny side of the folks at Patriot Place."

    Those words carry a lot of weight coming from a guy who works for a paper that ownes 17% of the Red Sox.

    PS - you should really do a little homework before publishing articles that contain demonstrably incorrect assertions.

    Posted by TheBigOldDog March 5, 09 11:27 AM
  1. You wrote: "Every single argument for what the Patriots did boils down simply to “Bill Knows Best.” Period. "

    With all due respect, there is now an additional argument: Bill knows better than you.

    Honestly, if your criticism is simply intended to express an opposing view, then it should be written accordingly. You hit the nail on the head, however, in your opening that this was all about clearing salary cap in order to sign: Taylor, Wilfork, Sanders, Baker, Mankins (who we've lost now), and the Patriots upcoming first round, three second round, and other picks.

    We still desparately need depth at the CB, Safety, ILB and OLB, plus a new long snapper, and a #3 wide receiver. Some help on the defensive and offensive line would not hurt either.

    The primary beneficiary of signing Peppers for big money would be the news coverage it would generate. It would, however, force the Patriots to look for second or third rate talent to fill all of these holes.

    I respect the Globe's patriots coverage but I am disappointed in this article, which I feel over-looks what the real issues facing the team are and how best to solve them.

    Posted by Justin-R March 5, 09 11:30 AM
  1. idiot

    Posted by Steve March 5, 09 11:31 AM
  1. Okay you can criticize, but you can't take a little sarcasm.
    Get off of this site and go back to the magazine.

    Posted by Topher Waitsfield March 5, 09 11:34 AM
  1. You forget that when it comes to Patriot player injuries, BB does know best - and that is not always the case in other teams and sports. Everyone needs to step back and realize the early 2nd round pick is very valuable this year in a very deep draft. We need the cap space to keep key players like Wilfork and sign new draft picks. So what if we lost one productive year of Vrabes - if it exists. Re-signing Wilfork and getting a stop-gap veteran corner and safety are critical. Why jeopardize your ability to do that with hopes changing that draft choice from 34th overall to 17th overall - assuming that was possible - lots of people doubt it was there.

    Posted by Scott March 5, 09 11:38 AM
  1. Oh okay Charles....if BB kept Vrabel and Cassel you'd be writing about the Patriots keeping an overpriced aging OLB and a 15 mil per year BACK UP QB. No matter what BB/Pats do you would question it. Go suck an egg!

    Posted by In BB we trust March 5, 09 11:40 AM
  1. Belichick deserves a pass and will continue to be given a pass because his teams have won three Superbowls. Really, that is the end of the story. I suffered through the Billy Sullivan years, Kiam years, the 1-15 year, the Shaeffer/Foxboro/Sullivan years and all the crappy years. I cut him some lack. And these latest moves can't really be judged until the trading, draft and final rosters are set in September. The Pats will be fine. As always in the Belichick regime. Enjoy it while he is here. It won't last forever and then it wil time for another 4-12 season.

    Posted by Brent March 5, 09 11:44 AM
  1. First of all, Peppers is not a free agent. He's been franchised. Second, the Patriots were handicapped by their cap space and the move gives them plenty of space to sign second tier guys and possibly extend the more important players on the team like Wilfork and Mankins. A high first round pick would have cost the Pats a salary close to Brady's. Bill will find another backup. You probably doubted him when he traded a 2nd for Welker.

    Posted by Tommy March 5, 09 11:49 AM
  1. NO ITS NOT ALRIGHT IF YOU BRING IT UP AGAIN, AND DO I NEED TO TELL YOU WHERE YOU COULD SHOVE YOUR " BAG OF MAGIC BEANS"

    Posted by ADEM VINCA March 5, 09 11:57 AM
  1. The only thing Mr. Pierce is forgetting is the fact that by "trusting in Bill" is what has brought them the 2nd round draft pick in this trade. If it was left to the rest of the world, Cassell would've been cut in training camp after a poor preseason, and the Pats would've had a combo of Byron Leftwich, Chris Simms, or Daunte Culpepper as their QB. Had Belichick listened to the rest of the "experts" out there, the Pats wouldn't have even been in position to get an extra draft pick entering the 2009. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a little bit stung by losing Vrabel, but in the end, the Patriots turned a guy that nobody but Bill wanted 8 months ago into a 2nd round draft pick. Which is a lot better than any of us would've been able to do if we had our way from the beginning.

    Posted by Jarod deVos March 5, 09 11:59 AM
  1. 1. Our former admired and respected "suitable" QB was our 2nd string man, and was going to cost $14.65 million,

    2. Our ".....relatively intact" OLB (translated, beloved, albeit in the twilight of his career) was going to cost $4+ million PLUS a roster bonus of $1 million a/o March 1st.

    So, we gain a cap friendly 34th draft pick AND $20 + Million in cap space to work with to shore up the team and you call that "magic beans"? Seriously?

    Posted by PC1 March 5, 09 12:10 PM
  1. Uh ohhhh.... Now you've done it, so expect a message on your phone from Fred 'Thin-Skin' Smerlas. "Charlie bruthah! I thought you were a pal? What gives? You know I'm right, so don't go writing things you don't know about. You never played the game, you don't know, so don't write about what you don't know!"
    Sorry Charlie...

    Posted by Hugh Jass March 5, 09 12:11 PM
  1. What part of unaffordability don't you get? There was no way the Patriots could maintain both quarterback's salaries, plain and simple.

    As for Vrabel, let's face it, he's seen better days. Anyone watching last year could clearly see the decline in his effectiveness.

    Posted by mark levine March 5, 09 12:12 PM
  1. What are the chances of the Patriots going after safety Roy Williams who was recently cut by the Cowboys?

    Would he fit in well with the Patriots' system?

    Posted by C.H. Chan March 5, 09 12:22 PM
  1. I believe that both Vrabel and Bruschi were third round picks, albeit Vrabel wasn't drafted by the Pats. Who is to say that Last years picks and free agents (Gary Guyton) won't pan out for the Pats. My hypothetical thoughts on the subject are. Bill knows he has a lot of new talent on the roster. Bill tells Shawn Crable to study film all winter, and expects him to arrive in camp more knowledgeable. He tells Guyton to go to some super camp and work on speed drills all winter, and He tells Bo Rudd to follow his brother around everywhere he goes all winter and do whatever he does.

    Posted by Jeffrey D. March 5, 09 12:29 PM
  1. Bill then drafts one more Linebacker high in the draft, and "Walla", Linebackers like lemmings who fit into the Pats system for years to come. Peppers is another one of those players who plays when he wants to play. He did nothing two seasons ago and his team claimed that sacks aren't important, but he he is great because he applies so much pressure. Sure!

    Posted by Jeffrey D. March 5, 09 12:34 PM
  1. I'll just say this, I'm glad you're not running the New England Patriots.

    Posted by Nick March 5, 09 12:35 PM
  1. I'll just say this, I'm glad you're not running the New England Patriots.

    Posted by Nick March 5, 09 12:36 PM
  1. To a certain extent, I agree with you. But nothing succeeds like success and Bill Belichick has a track record that cannot be argued against. I am sure the Krafts like Bill a lot, but I don't think he has the job for that reason. So as long as he keeps winning, he cannot do anything wrong.

    Posted by ssr March 5, 09 12:38 PM
  1. The bottom line is BB knows what he is doing. Its still a long way to the draft and the top free agent is still not signed. If Tom Brady wasn't lost for the season last year Matt Cassell would probably be playing for one of 31 teams, and might still be sitting on a NFL bench.

    Posted by amalfi March 5, 09 12:46 PM
  1. This article is all over the place. Do you you guys still have an editor?

    Posted by Mark March 5, 09 12:52 PM
  1. Charles, you and Shaughnessy are a couple of twits. Look, the Pats weren't going to get a king's ransom for a back-up QB who never started a game in college and spent 3 years holding a clipboard for Brady. Yes, he had a good year in 2008 subbing for injured Brady, but if Cassel were throwing to receivers unlike Moss and Welker and Faulk, what would he have done? A lot of people said that the Belichick system made Matt more than he was. Maybe, maybe not. But, bottom line: Pats need salary cap room and paying Cassel $14 mil to be a back-up wasn't going to happen. To even begin to equate BB with the likes of Cherry and Zimmer shows how uninformed you are.

    Posted by Petey G. March 5, 09 12:55 PM
  1. Wow! that is the most ridiculous arguement i have ever heard. Let's ignore everything the man has done for us as a franchise and say, "Belichicks entire legacy in NE rides on signing Peppers." Buddy get real, Belichick made a move that was necessary. If he had not gotten rid of Vrabel in the trade, he would have just cut him. So please before you go around saying, BB needs to do anything, think to the past and see that BB is the biggest reason why this franchise is relevant again.

    Posted by Anonymous March 5, 09 01:01 PM
  1. Chuck I get your literary prose but $18m in cap space isn't exactly magic beans. You get A for effort, F for delivery. keep trying though...

    Posted by fooze March 5, 09 01:02 PM
  1. Don't understand his point. If Pats don't franchise Cassel, he becomes a free agent and they get nothing. So they franchise him and get the 34th pick in the draft and it doesn't cost them a dime. Vrabel part of the deal is speculation at this point, i.e. salary dump by Pats or Pioli demand...no one is saying. This guy's writing is pure fluff and so wordy...just get to the point.

    Posted by John K. March 5, 09 01:23 PM
  1. this is probably one of the worst columns i have ever read

    Posted by Derek March 5, 09 01:40 PM
  1. Keep sending in the comments...pretty soon this article will be more popular than Finn's piece from last week. If only the on-line salepeople could get ad revenue for all of the readers we seem to have...

    Now I am off to write another piece of trash for the Magazine.

    Posted by CHARLES PIERCE March 5, 09 01:40 PM
  1. Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prise for telling the world about information that was already available. Maybe there is hope for you, thanks for rewriting what everyone else has done.

    Posted by Nate Upchurch March 5, 09 01:44 PM
  1. Worse than anything Cafardo has written. And that's going some!

    What happened to the once-great Boston Globe sports section?

    Posted by TC March 5, 09 01:45 PM
  1. Who is responsible for giving this guy his own column, this guy should be writing high school sports, if that...what a joke

    Posted by Bob C. March 5, 09 02:05 PM
  1. Very bad, poorly thought out. Facts don't seem to enter into your stream of consious. What is the problem you couldn't get a job as a bill collector ?

    Posted by Leo Carey March 5, 09 02:24 PM
  1. If you take Vrabel out of the picture, is anyone really complainign about this? The main point here was to move Cassel (assumes Brady is/will be good to go) while retaining value for him. Mission accomplished, second round pick for a 7th round selection that had one very good season. Keep in mind that next year Cassel won't be throwing to Moss and Welker. He'll be throwing to Dwayne Bowe, maybe Tony Gonzalez and others no one has ever heard of. Realisitically, you have to expect his performance to drop a little. Loss of Vrabel hurts for sure, he was a GREAT Patriots player but he's on the downside, similar to letting McGinest go to Cleveland a couple years ago. He could still play but nearing the end. The pressure on the Pats now is to get sustained value out of that #34 pick. If that pick turns into Chad Jackson (2006 #36), then this trade is an unequivical bust.

    Posted by Gregg Stephens March 5, 09 02:35 PM
  1. Vrabel has been a fantastic player since his arrival in 2001. Patriots defensive scheme was good to him too. He struggled in Pittsburgh's system. The relationship was a great exchange, fair to Vrabel and the Pats. Vrabel was getting cut anyway. He was thrown into this trade because the Chiefs are in a formative state and Vrabel's integrity etc will be a huge asset. His performance for the Pats was marginal last year. He has had very painful back problems, and he was clearly not as physically fit as he was the year before, probably because of the aforementiond problem. Oh yeh, Cassel was not playing for the Chiefs last year.

    Posted by Chris March 5, 09 02:53 PM
  1. Chuck... sersiously??? Are you just bored and figured what can I write that will incite some venom? You're article is so short sighted that non of us have the patience to really explain it to you.

    You should stick to the Globe magazine.... you know that filler that no one reads and that most people lay on their floors for their dog's defecate on. Actually it does serve as good wrapping paper as well.

    Posted by Bones March 5, 09 03:38 PM
  1. Mr Pierce, how many teams have you coached????

    Posted by gmbill March 5, 09 03:56 PM
  1. your an idoit and shouldnt be allowed to write for the globe

    Posted by Anonymous March 5, 09 04:08 PM
  1. What in God's name is he smokin, gotta be a trol writer!!!! Never heard of him.

    Posted by Tom March 5, 09 06:04 PM
  1. Thank God this idiot doesn't run the Pats or we wouldn't have the cap room to sign anybody.

    Posted by GlenR March 5, 09 06:27 PM
  1. I hate to pile on here, but really, this is an idiotic column. It's sooo easy to criticize Belichick now, when we really don't know the end game -- but if he thinks Belichick is such an idiot, where was he after each of the Pats Super Bowl wins? No one really believes that Belichick is a genius, but he has brought more sports success to New England since the Celtics run decades ago, and for that he does indeed deserve the benefit of the doubt -- especially because there is still a long time to go before the season actually starts.

    Posted by Donnie March 5, 09 08:47 PM
  1. Please do not insult our intelligence when you have no clue of what you are talking about. Best case for getting anything for Cassel was a 3rd Rd compensatory pick if he left. If you saw preseason he looked awful while Guitierrez looked better than Cassel. Cassel is good, but Welker and Faulk made him much better with YAC (have someone explain to you what that is). Vrabel was slowing down and had less pressures and 4 sacks. We have to get our defense of old back and that will take youth and speed. Vrabel was on his last year of contract and we still have many leaders on this team. Plus we have to use the cap space wisely to sign Wilfork and Mankins. Bakerer was a steal for us. Please stop writing articles.

    Posted by Randy North March 5, 09 08:48 PM
  1. Okay, here's some big words for you: verbose, sanctimonious, self-aggrandizing. Sound about right? But then, you have to use big words sometimes to cover up the fact that you have nothing to say. I kept searching for some logical argument but as of yet have not found one. Let me get this straight, Chuck, you are criticizing fans for being loyal to their local team and coach? But what you really seem to be complaining about is that fans don't apply their undying loyalty to every team in the same way. So we are to be criticized for being able to differentiate between between one era, one team, and one coach and another--stupid us! Of course, what you really wanted to do was show off your knowledge of sports trivia--well, we are all impressed. Most especially, I loved how you so cleverly worked in some commentary on race relations and your sly implication that some reporters are not as "hard hitting" as others because they need to stay in good with the Patriots. But of course, none of them can take credit for advising the Celtics on personnel, now can they?

    Chuck, you are further proof that sportswriting has become dominated by bird-necked nerds whose every article should be subtitled "I got beat up in high school by the jocks, and now I am going to take my revenge by tearing them down publicly." I can just see you now, sitting in your filthy apartment and marveling at every word you have written. That probably explains why you are beating this dead horse this week instead of last--genius takes time, right? So, thank you so much for gracing all of us with your wisdom! Oh, by the way, it's "whomever else the Patriots hire", not whoever. Bet that ruined your whole day, dork!

    Posted by Damaddhadder March 5, 09 09:25 PM
  1. Let's see ... Bill is dumb, you are smart.
    We're dumb because we don't critique that which we know little about, you are smart because you do.
    You are actually funny on "Wait, Wait - Don't Tell Me!", here you are not.
    Maybe your editor took out the facts or points you were trying to build your rather condescending conclusions on or maybe not.

    Posted by Charlie March 5, 09 11:27 PM
  1. Put a $mile on Vince Wilfork, and the Patriots are in an excellent position to build around him with the draft.

    Posted by BlueLew March 6, 09 08:17 AM
  1. It amazes me how much grief this artice is generating. In all honesty I thought this was a completely fair piece. For the people going after Charles, you should consider that it is also widely regarded in that same circle of experts that the Patriots didn't get as much value that could have gotten. If that wasn't the case there wouldn't be any need to opine on the matter. My suggestion to most of you is to take a deep breath and realize that there isn't anything wrong with admitting the Pats front office may have screwed up. It is completely reasonable to question the Cassel trade. First and foremost, it is ATYPICAL for the Pats to sign a player to the fanchise tag and not be prepared for the cap impact of taking on that act. Simply put, why sign Cassel if you know right from the outset that you need to trade him? You've already reduced your leverage before any trading partners are already involved. This was their first mistake. The second was not actively shopping Cassel. The Pats waited for suitors to call them instead of reaching out to other teams and making it known what the potential compensation could have been. Case in point, the dynamics of this trade changes completely with the introduction of Detroit, Tampa and Denver. Don't kid yourselves into thinking the compensation value won't go up with more suitors involved. If the Pats front office truly did not conspire to that theory than I would suggest the organization take a long hard look as to why. While most of you cling to the "In Bill we trust" mantra I'm going to side with Charles on this one and continune to be perplexed as to how a franchised QB that is "supposed" to garner TWO first round picks gets boilded down to Cassel\Vrabel traded for ONE 2nd round pick. Seems reasonable to question it to me.

    Posted by Anonymous March 6, 09 11:16 AM
  1. I am not happy with Vrabel getting shipped out, as any fan who's been alive the last 9 years would be. But the Pats MUST improve their pass rush, and because they will stay in a 3-4 that means either Thomas or Vrabel had to be upgraded. Expecting 8-10 sacks from Vrabel at this point is not realistic. BB had no choice, but he does have a choice who lines up opposite Thomas. Hard to blast a work in progress.

    Posted by waitandsee March 6, 09 11:32 AM
  1. This was poorly thought out. Many of the comments posted here offer significantly better analysis than your piece. The most obvious concept that you ignore is Cassel was a super-expensive insurance policy, and barring setbacks to Tom Brady (knock on wood) it was likely that Cassel would be gone via free agency after next year anyway. In which case we get nothing in return. What's more, other teams knew this!!!! They're not stupid (Oakland Raiders excluded) and they knew the Pats lacked leverage. Would we have liked more for Cassel and Vrabel? Sure, but if we're gambling either way, I'll take the guaranteed second round pick.

    Posted by Chris March 6, 09 11:59 AM
  1. Charles Pierce,

    I just read all of the comments and people think you are waaaaay off base ( and that would be kind ). All I can think is that you attempting to become some kind of shock journalist because your comments have people up in arms. There is no way a person who, For a living, writes about sports in Boston could be so foolish to write what you wrote. It defies logic. Therefore you must be joking.

    Posted by Anonymous March 6, 09 12:24 PM
  1. Jason Taylor is the better fit than Julius Peppers. Moneywise it would take a whole lot more and you would have to compansate Carolina for him. Taylor is on the back side of his career and would like a chance at a ring.

    Posted by Amalfi March 6, 09 02:27 PM
  1. I've seen quite a few articles like this where the writer seems to suggest that we shouldn't have let Cassel go for this pick because he's such a good player. They just don't seem to understand it doesn't matter how good he is, we can't afford two QB's at that salary. The gamble was when they tagged him. They could have let him walk and hoped for a conditional pick, but they took the risk. After that it was just a matter of what the market would bear. Now we all know what his current market value is.
    Lastly, why all the confusion on why fans trust BB? How many times does he have to be right before you trust him?

    Posted by Anonymous March 6, 09 04:23 PM
  1. This is the plan: Brady throws 50 TD's -the lame D sit's back and waits while their opponents try 2 comeback from a 20 point deficit -eventually making a game ending mistake-just like 2 years ago- if the game is close however -even with the " amazing " Asanti " -teams can- and will-walk down the field and put the dagger in-see Giants vs Pat's SB?- BB must know he's only gonna be around for 3 more years-otherwise if this were just "business"- you keep Cassel-he's 26? and you trade Brady 32? -no one is ever the same after those kinds of injuries-ask Dante Cullpepper-Cassel's fantastic pass 2 Moss put that Jet game into overtime-but once again in a close game when the other guy has the ball-it's basically a death sentence for NE-now I know Brady is a "God" and I'm a huge fan-but really-another year with Cassel starting with Moss, Welker etc-his numbers would be through the roof-anyway forget Peppers-a potent "D" isn't part of the plan.

    Posted by Toots Sweet March 6, 09 11:48 PM
  1. Chuck... not your finrst hour when the responses are more interesting, more articulate, and more accurate than your column. If the goal was to illicit a response in support of Mr. Hoodie, kudos.

    Posted by Anonymous March 7, 09 10:04 AM
  1. 1 Training Camp- Cut Cassel - Play Gutierrez
    2. After Brady's injury - Sign Culpepper - Don't play that bum Cassel
    3. Post season - Franchise Cassel, Are you nuts? $14.65 Mil?
    4. After trade - What? only a second round pick? Fool !!
    5 After 2009 season - Man, that Larry English pick was brilliant. For KC's backup QB. And they are paying Cassel 10 times as much. What a steal.

    Posted by In Bill We Trust March 7, 09 12:37 PM
  1. Geez, Charlie...appears you touched a nerve! I guess the Kool-Aid requires one's holding of one's nose as it goes down, and, of course, the absence of reason...

    Loved the snide commentary on "sports-talk" radio, too. Keep that up, 'cause it makes the morons angry! It's their default position, however --- so, it's really like shooting fish in a barrel. Fun, though!

    Posted by somark37 March 8, 09 11:17 AM
  1. Well Charlie Pierce is a comic/sportswriter, if this article is taken as tongue-in-cheek, it will perhaps, make more sense. Charlie is a regular on NPR's weekend programs "Only a Game" and "Wait-Wait, Don't Tell Me", where his humor is matched for the 'sport illiterate, but looking to be informed and have a laugh' news junkie crowd. Having had experience at trying to WRITE sarcasm, I can tell you, it can easily get lost on an audience.

    Posted by Al March 8, 09 12:01 PM
  1. BB's is not God, but is a god!

    Posted by Armchair fan March 8, 09 05:55 PM
  1. Bill's won 3 super bowls so in Bill we trust when you win 3 super bowls we'll believe in you too.

    Posted by sean March 8, 09 07:47 PM
  1. I would never question BB as his track record to 2005 was great. In saying that I agree to an extent that trading Vrabel is confusing considering how much help the D needs right now. I only hope they can pull off a good free agency buy or trade to help get pressure on the opposition QB's as that aspect of the D has let the Pats down for a number of years now. Remember the Pats haven't won a Superbowl for a while and really need to take advantage of the great QB they have in Brady. Don't waste his talent with a below average D.

    Posted by Brad March 9, 09 02:14 AM

  1. With the Loss of Vrabel, and the Pats already looking thin in LB Depth do you think the Pats will sign someone or

    do you think they want to address this in draft and think they can get someone who can start right away with

    having 4 picks in the top 90. Seems like there are some good 1-2 years stop gap players that could help till this years

    Rookie Crop is ready to take over full time. How about any of these players... Do you think the Pats might sign any of these guys?
    Marcus Washington

    Cato June

    Derrick Brooks

    Angelo Crowell

    Mike Peterson

    Eric Barton

    Maybe we can work out a 1 year deal for these two to re-unite and they can show teams they still have it.

    Zach Thomas & Jason Taylor

    Posted by Eric March 9, 09 11:03 AM
  1. "Simply restricted to sports, the notion is even more untenable. Danny Ainge certainly has earned a measure of credibility as the architect of a championship basketball team, but he took some heat for taking This Space’s advice and signing both Stephon Marbury and the tattoo on the side of his head. "

    ...."this space's advice"....oh yeah - as if anyone is listening to you - never mind Danny Ainge. What a narcissistic air-pocket of a writer.

    Posted by rjbogart March 9, 09 01:49 PM
  1. Who is this clown and why doesn't he do any research? Did he not notice the steady stream of mid-price free agents that have been signed in the last week? Did he not see the logjam of young athletic linebackers competing for spots? Is he unaware that we have 3 picks in the first 2 rounds that will likely produce at least one edge rusher?

    I guess if it doesn't make superficial sense to a columnist it must be stupid and reckless.

    Posted by Jack March 9, 09 01:52 PM
  1. charlie pierce seems to have struck a nerve with just about all of us , but isnt that what a good writer supposed to do . now who would have read another belicheks a genius story. well done charlie your quite a poop strirrer.

    Posted by chuck pendergast March 9, 09 05:13 PM
  1. Your short cited view fits in well with places like Dallas or the Jets. Belichick knows what he's doing and at this point anyone who questions him is wasting ink. They won 11 games with a mixed bag of defensive players (some of whom were surfing and working for the big brown truck as late as November) and a QB who everyone was screaming to cut in September. They turned that QB and an aging QB into a great value pick.

    I'll take your words about as seirously as those of a videographer/golf pro.

    Posted by Andrew March 10, 09 11:01 AM
  1. Only slightly off-topic:
    BB is either a genius and cheated (SpyGate) or he's not a genius because he risked huge penalties by doing something against the rules which doesn't give his team any benefit.
    PICK ONE! (and ONLY one).

    Posted by Berto March 13, 09 05:41 PM
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Charles P. Pierce writes for the Boston Globe Magazine. A long-time sportswriter and columnist, Pierce is a frequent guest on national TV and radio.
Tony Massarotti is a Boston Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. He is currently spotlighted as a featured columnist on Boston.com.
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Tom Caron serves as studio host for NESN's Boston Red Sox coverage.
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Bob Lobel was a WBZ-TV sportscaster for 29 years, anchoring more than 10,000 sports reports.
Chad Finn is a sports reporter at the Globe and founder of the Touching All The Bases blog. Before joining the Globe, he was an award winning columnist at the Concord Monitor.

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