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Cassel continues to dazzle NFL insiders


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ESPN.com:

Cassel continues to dazzle NFL insiders

December 18, 2008 9:00 AM

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

nfl_u_cassel_412.jpg

There might still be some Matt Cassel doubters out there.

Among NFL insiders, however, the New England Patriots quarterback is viewed with a high degree of respect. Their admiration of Cassel has only grown with the way he has carried himself the past 10 days.

"If you loved him before, you love him a little more today," ESPN analyst and former Tennessee Titans general manager Floyd Reese said.

With a heavy heart, Cassel on Sunday threw a career-high four touchdown passes in a 49-26 road victory over the Oakland Raiders. Earlier last week, Cassel's father was found dead. The funeral wasn't held until Tuesday.

"You could see the pain in his eyes," former NFL executive Michael Lombardi said after watching behind-the-scenes NFL Films footage of the Patriots' week. "It's just very, very dramatic."

Sunday might be remembered as the signature performance of Cassel's breakout season.

Cassel briefly left the team and missed an important practice, but -- on the same field Brett Favre famously threw four touchdown passes the day his father died in 2003 -- he was sensational. Cassel would've finished with even more prolific numbers Sunday had the game not been so lopsided.

"To have the wherewithal or ability or gumption or whatever it takes to be able to pull off what he did was indeed special," Reese said. "There's a lot of us in the football world who think we're pretty tough, but when something like that comes along it brings you to your knees. For him to be able to pull it off was a special performance."

The Patriots are in a three-way tie atop the AFC East, but they don't control their own destiny like the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins do. Even so, at 9-5 with two games to play, Cassel has proven he can be more than Tom Brady's proxy.

Cassel will be a free agent after the season. The Patriots could put the franchise tag on him, which means they would retain him for another season but have to pay him an average of the NFL's top five salaries at his position.

If Cassel hits the market, there will be no shortage of suitors. What he did Sunday increased his bargaining power with the Patriots and the many other teams that covet battlers.

"It shows you he handles adversity because that's a situation, whether you're a football player [or] an ordinary American, when you lose a loved one like that, it's so hard," said Lombardi, who writes for the National Football Post. "It's unfortunate.

"He handled it very, very well. Every game regardless of this adversity, he's improved his stock tremendously."

Three months ago, many football experts figured Cassel would fail. When Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury on opening day, Cassel hadn't started a game since high school. Billed as the clipboard holder to the stars, Cassel backed up Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart at Southern California.

Cassel has blossomed from virtual novice to certified conductor of the very Patriots offense Brady ran.

"Where they are right now is they are running the same offense they ran in the Super Bowl last year," CBS Sports analyst and former Washington Redskins GM Charley Casserly said. "Overall, you've seen the guy progress throughout the year. You've seen him improve his decision-making, improve on his reads, improve on his accuracy. His running is a real asset for him. So the arrow's pointing up there."

When GMs and personnel directors evaluate his season, they will have much to be impressed with. He had back-to-back 400-yard games. He has rushed for 232 yards.

And, although it was a mournful time, executives will remember his game in Oakland.

"I have no idea how you would quantify that," Reese said, "but if somebody was thinking 'I'm willing to spend an exorbitant amount of money on a young quarterback,' and negotiations feel like they're getting out of hand, you reflect back on something like this and think 'It's going to be worth it. He's worth the risk.'"

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Cassel will be a free agent after the season. The Patriots could put the franchise tag on him, which means they would retain him for another season but have to pay him an average of the NFL's top five salaries at his position.

If Cassel hits the market, there will be no shortage of suitors. What he did Sunday increased his bargaining power with the Patriots and the many other teams that covet battlers.

The Pats arent going to simply let Cassel walk without getting compensated.

Not happening.

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Cassel will be a free agent after the season. The Patriots could put the franchise tag on him, which means they would retain him for another season but have to pay him an average of the NFL's top five salaries at his position.

If Cassel hits the market, there will be no shortage of suitors. What he did Sunday increased his bargaining power with the Patriots and the many other teams that covet battlers.

The Pats arent going to simply let Cassel walk without getting compensated.

Not happening.

They may not have much of a choice.

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where is cassell's signature win?

give me a break......

i will hang up and wait for answer....

If the Pats had won the toss in OT against the Jets that would have been it. Either way, that game showed what the guy is all about.

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Cassel will be a free agent after the season. The Patriots could put the franchise tag on him, which means they would retain him for another season but have to pay him an average of the NFL's top five salaries at his position.

If Cassel hits the market, there will be no shortage of suitors. What he did Sunday increased his bargaining power with the Patriots and the many other teams that covet battlers.

The Pats arent going to simply let Cassel walk without getting compensated.

Not happening.

A team can't tag a player with the sole intent of trading him. No doubt the Patriots will try, but all snarky comments about Kraft's influence aside, he will have to be watching this closely. I suppose it's a good problem to have, but can you imagine him ending up in BUF next year.

Nah! What team would be dumb enough to let a good quarterback go to another team in the division?!

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They may not have much of a choice.

They have a choice.

They can franchise and trade or sign Cassel to a 1 year deal contingent on trading him.

An NFL team stands a better chance of dealing with NE exclusively vs Cassel hitting the open markets with several teams wanting to speak with him. A team that has its heart on signing him may never get a visit if he hits FA.

NE knows what it has in Cassel.

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They have a choice.

They can franchise and trade or sign Cassel to a 1 year deal contingent on trading him.

An NFL team stands a better chance of dealing with NE exclusively vs Cassel hitting the open markets with several teams wanting to speak with him. A team that has its heart on signing him may never get a visit if he hits FA.

NE knows what it has in Cassel.

i understand you cannot trade a franchise playa

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Cassel will be a free agent after the season. The Patriots could put the franchise tag on him, which means they would retain him for another season but have to pay him an average of the NFL's top five salaries at his position.

If Cassel hits the market, there will be no shortage of suitors. What he did Sunday increased his bargaining power with the Patriots and the many other teams that covet battlers.

The Pats arent going to simply let Cassel walk without getting compensated.

Not happening.

Hope the Pathetic's* have 13 million in cap space to waste

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A team can't tag a player with the sole intent of trading him. No doubt the Patriots will try, but all snarky comments about Kraft's influence aside, he will have to be watching this closely. I suppose it's a good problem to have, but can you imagine him ending up in BUF next year.

If Cassel is Tagged it would be for insurance if Brady isnt ready. Youve heard all the bad press about Brady's knee? The guy is in a motorized chair for cripes sakes.

Its bad!

Nah! What team would be dumb enough to let a good quarterback go to another team in the division?!

We will find out next week in the Meadowlands.

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If he is tagged i hear it will cost some $15-16M to tag him

What team is willing to trade for him pay that much for a potential Scott Mitchell.

I'm assuming NFL union will not allow a $4m per year contract..

Cassel isnt going to demand 15 mil per season. Slightly more in signing bonus spread out over a long term contract.

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If Cassel is Tagged it would be for insurance if Brady isnt ready. Youve heard all the bad press about Brady's knee? The guy is in a motorized chair for cripes sakes.

Its bad!

I don't know the details of how it works, but if there's a way to skirt, err...misinterpret the rules in the NFL, you definitely have the right guys in place to do it :)

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He cannot be traded if he is franchised? He can be resigned but why would he take so much less then a franchise amount he would be guaranteed? Cassel would have a lot of leverage Once you franchise a guy you need to make space the moment you franchise the guy.

The cap space is temporary.

Jared Allen was tagged and traded last year.

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The cap space is temporary.

Jared Allen was tagged and traded last year.

Yes but all the players you have on your roster would need to be under the required cap limit. It is tough to have close to 30 million tied up at one position at any point in the year. Can hurt during the free agency period. Do not forget Cassell would have to agree to any new contract knowing he could get 15 million for one year. He could hold the Patsies* hostage and go free agency the following year

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