Cassell to KCMatt Cassel won’t have to worry about being the NFL’s most expensive backup next season. A little more than three weeks after New England put the franchise tag on Cassel as insurance for two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, the Patriots traded him and veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel to Kansas City on Saturday. The Chiefs, who earned the third overall selection following a franchise-worst 2-14 season, gave up just their second-round pick — No. 34 overall — for the two players in a deal that highlighted a busy second day of NFL free agency.
By: By The Associated Press, The Jamestown Sun
Matt Cassel won’t have to worry about being the NFL’s most expensive backup next season.
A little more than three weeks after New England put the franchise tag on Cassel as insurance for two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, the Patriots traded him and veteran linebacker Mike Vrabel to Kansas City on Saturday.
The Chiefs, who earned the third overall selection following a franchise-worst 2-14 season, gave up just their second-round pick — No. 34 overall — for the two players in a deal that highlighted a busy second day of NFL free agency.
Cassel hadn’t started a game since high school but stepped in when Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury less than eight minutes into the season opener against Kansas City. He went on to throw for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns in 15 starts.
Brady’s rehab was set back when an infection forced a second operation. By putting the franchise tag on Cassel, New England would have had to pay him $14.5 million to keep him as a backup.
“It is very easy to root for guys like Matt Cassel, who do everything the right way and flourish as a result,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “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.”
In other major moves, Denver signed seven-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins, who spent 13 seasons with Philadelphia; the Eagles traded Lito Sheppard to the New York Jets; Dallas acquired Jon Kitna from Detroit to back up Tony Romo, and signed linebacker Keith Brooking; linebacker Michael Boley signed a five-year deal with the New York Giants; and Houston signed defensive end Antonio Smith.
Getting Cassel and Vrabel is the latest move for Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, the Patriots’ former personnel director who joined Kansas City in January.
“I have a long history with both players,” Pioli said. “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.”
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.
Although Dawkins turns 36 next season and is clearly on the downside of his career, he brings a hard-hitting style and leadership qualities coveted by new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.
McDaniels, the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator before he was hired to replace Mike Shanahan in Denver, envisions his new veteran safety playing a role similar to what Rodney Harrison had in New England in recent seasons.
The Broncos also signed free agent safety Renaldo Hill, who helped lead the Miami Dolphins’ turnaround last season. McDaniels is tapping the New England pipeline as he tries to resurrect the Broncos, luring two free agents from the Patriots in wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and long-snapper Lonie Paxton.
Sheppard, who spent his first seven NFL seasons with the Eagles, could immediately start in a Jets secondary that ranked 29th against the pass last year despite having Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis and playmaking safety Kerry Rhodes.
“We acquired a veteran corner with Pro Bowl ability,” Jets coach Rex Ryan said. “This young man has already gone to two Pro Bowls. He is a great athlete with the top-end speed that we look for to play that position. We think he can match up with some of the best receivers in the game.”
Neither the Jets nor the Eagles announced terms of the deal, but Philadelphia will reportedly receive a fifth-round pick in April and a conditional pick in next year’s draft.
Dallas traded starting right cornerback Anthony Henry to Detroit, where Kitna appeared in only four games last season before going on injured reserve with a back injury.
When Romo missed three games last season because of a broken pinkie finger, the Cowboys went 1-2 and leaned heavily on their defense to beat Tampa Bay 13-9 for the lone victory in that stretch. The Cowboys, who began the season as a Super Bowl favorite, instead finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
The 36-year-old Kitna, who was due a $1 million roster bonus next week, was not expected to return to the Lions. He’s scheduled to make $1.95 million this season.
The 26-year-old Boley, who signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Giants, is excellent in pass coverage and is expected to be given a shot at winning the weakside linebacker job after playing the strongside for Atlanta.
In other moves Saturday:
— St. Louis agreed to a deal with free-agent Jason Brown, making him the NFL’s highest-paid center with a five-year, $37.5 million deal — including $20 million guaranteed.
— Brandon Moore re-signed with the Jets a day after Pittsburgh guard Chris Kemoeatu turned down an offer and returned to the Steelers. Moore inked a four-year, $16-million two days after he was cut.
— Buffalo signed linebacker Geoff Hangartner.
— Tight end Jim Kleinsasser re-signed with the Minnesota Vikings for a $9 million, three-year contract.
— The Lions signed running back Maurice Morris to a three-year deal and cornerback Eric King to a two-year contract.
— Wide receiver Brandon Jones agreed to a five-year, $16.5-million deal with San Francisco.
— The New Orleans Saints agreed to a five-year contract with offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb.
— The Eagles signed right tackle Stacy Andrews to a six-year contract, pairing him with younger brother Shawn Andrews.