Matt Cassel's Free Agency Will Put The Patriots In A Very Tough (And Expensive) Situation
At the end of the season, the Patriots will be in another difficult position. Cassel will be a free agent, and Brady's future may still be undetermined. His knee is still giving him problems, and doctors aren't making any promises that he'll be back next year, or even that his career will ever be the same.
If Brady is unable to come back, or is unable to perform at a high level, then Cassel immediately becomes vital to the Patriots' future. They can't afford to have him under contract next year, however, since they are already in cap trouble and Cassel will likely be looking for a contract along the lines of the one that Aaron Rodgers recently signed with the Packers, giving him $65 over 6 years. The Patriots simply can't afford to pay him that kind of money, and will be forced to let him go.
One option is to put the franchise tag on Cassel. This would pay him the average salary of the 5 highest paid QB's in the league for one year. If Cassel hits free agency, he may get that kind of money anyway. Peter King has said that the only way the Patriots could or would do this is if Brady's knee was so bad that the Patriots had to rely on Cassel to be their starter again, because the players union wouldn't allow them to franchise him simply to trade him. However, there may not be anything the NFLPA can do about it, if that's really what the Patriots want to do. It's definitely the most viable option for them, since they would be able to get something for Cassel instead of simply losing him to free agency for nothing.
The bottom line is that the Patriots will need to do something eventually to get their QB situation sorted out. If Brady can return for next season, then he is the starter, without a doubt. If he can't, however, then they will not only need to find a QB for themselves, they will need to find out what to do with Cassel. If they can get something in return for him, they absolutely have to. They are getting old as a whole, and could use any possible infusion of young talent that is available. As Cassel's performance continues to improve, he continues to become a more appealing option for teams like the Lions, who desperately need a viable option at quarterback.
Don't let Matt Cassel walk away for free. This team is already one more Tom Brady injury away from have to blow it up and rebuild, and there are other needs that have to be addressed this offseason, like the secondary. The Patriots have a huge choice to make after the season. What do you think they should do?