The New England Patriots traded quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs today in exchange for a 2009 second-round draft choice (34th overall).
Cassel, who turns 27 in May, will be reunited with former Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli, the Chiefs’ first-year general manager.
“I have a long history with both players,” Pioli said in a statement. “Mike and Matt are men that I respect both personally and professionally. I look forward to having them as new members of the Chiefs family.”
Cassel was one of the NFL’s surprise stories in 2008. Despite having not started a regular-season game since high school, he stepped in for the injured Tom Brady in the Patriots’ season opener against the Chiefs, and ultimately led the team to an 11-5 season.
Cassel completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 3,693 yards, with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Of Cassel, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said: “It is very easy to root for guys like Matt Cassel, who do everything the right way and flourish as a result. As much as we would have loved to continue working with Matt, we wish him nothing but the best as he takes this next step forward in his career.”
The 33-year-old Vrabel was part of three Super Bowl-winning teams in his eight years with New England, primarily as an outside linebacker. He joins a team whose linebackers were devastated by injury and played poorly. The Chiefs are now counting on Vrabel’s experience and leadership.
Said Belichick of Vrabel: “When Mike arrived in 2001, we knew we were adding a solid outside linebacker. But where Mike took it from there exceeded our highest hopes. Mike Vrabel epitomizes everything a coach could seek in a professional football player: toughness, intelligence, playmaking, leadership, versatility and consistency at the highest level. Behind the scenes, Mike’s wit and personality is one of the things we have all enjoyed about coming to work every day. The toughest aspect of my job is the day I stop coaching people like Mike, who did everything in his power to contribute to team success. Of all the players I have coached in my career, there is nobody I enjoyed working with more than Mike. In the same way people recognize guys like Troy Brown, we appreciate and thank Mike Vrabel. He is one of the very special Patriots champions.”
Background material from the Associated Press was used in this report.