Monday, March 2, 2009

A *Great* Day to be a Patriots Fan!

The Pats traded both Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick (the 34th overall). And some on the web think Belichick got snookered or sold out for his old friend Scott Pioli.

But as usual, the so-called NFL savvy members of the media missed the bigger picture on this one. Here are the reasons this is one of the best days to be a Patriots fan:

1. Trading Matt Cassel means Tom Brady's rehab is on schedule.

There were persistent rumors that Tom Brady's rehabilitation from knee surgery was behind schedule. And there were even rumors that they might trade Brady and keep Cassel instead. But now it's clear that all those rumors were wrong.

The Pats would not have traded Cassel if Brady was behind schedule. And even though Cassel was good last year, the Patriots were record-setting with Brady under center the year before. So don't be fooled; Brady gives the Patriots their best chance at a championship for the next few years.

2. They went from no salary cap room to plenty of salary cap room.

The Patriots need help in the secondary, perhaps on the offensive line, and need some youth at linebacker. But they weren't going to get any of that with only $400,000 to spend under the salary cap. However, after the trade, they now have over $17 million to spend. Not bad for a day's work.

And perhaps more importantly, they can use some of that room to re-do the contracts of their 2010 free agents, a list headed by their most indespensible defensive player, Vince Wilfork. He's not their *best* defensive player, but with Mike Wright backing him up, he is clearly the man they'd have the toughest time replacing.

3. Youth will be served in the linebacking corps.

I know Mike Vrabel was a defensive stalwart on three Super Bowl teams. And he had one of his best year in 2007. But his 2008 looked a lot like Tedy Bruschi's 2006 -- and if Vrabel declined as Bruschi did in 2007 and 2008, he'd be a lot less valuable as time went on.

Frankly, the Patriots have been hurt for the past few years because they felt compelled to play their best players all the time. That never gave any of their younger guys a chance to develop. But with Vrabel gone, the Patriots have no choice but to put Gary Guyton, Tully Banta-Cain, and perhaps a linebacker or two from the draft into the lineup.

And I think they'll be better off in the long run for it.

- Scott

PS. 0-0!

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