The first thing is to be grateful to Matt Cassel. For his hard work, not
just over the past year, but over the three years that preceded it.
That's the harder work--you're the backup to a legend, you don't
foresee ever having to put the knowledge into action--and you pay
attention anyway. You absorb and learn. That's a voluntary act that
Cassel went through, not knowing if it would ever come to fruition. We should have a huge appreciation for that.
And we should also appreciate what he did on the field. He had a great coaching staff and the principal QB to advise him from the sidelines, but he was the only one who could go out and actually stare into the eyes of the defensive line on the other side. At a certain juncture, it was just Cassel vs. the expectations and the other team, in a situation where nobody necessarily expected him to do much. And he performed beautifully.
Clearly, he's an asset to any team who employs him. If we didn't already have an MVP at quarterback, we'd undoubtedly consider him our franchise QB going forward.
So. Our team and its scouting and coaching staff have produced two relatively unknown quarterbacks who sat on the sidelines and then responded with aplomb when the lights were brightest. Is this lightning striking twice? Or should we expect the same from the next Cassel, whoever he is?
What we know is that our team has a lot of needs right now, and one of them is not at quarterback (ostensibly). Meanwhile, Mike Reiss has made some interesting arguments in favor of the trade that sent two mainstays of the 2008 Patriots to the Kansas City Chiefs (where Scott Pioli is currently employed) for a single second round draft pick. He says the team got the best value for Cassel given the state of the market and Cassel's franchise-tag salary.
Many fans, though, aren't buying it. Comments on Reiss's posts have veered into the hostile. In a poll on the site, 29.1% voted "This trade is terrible. There was no way KC could have gotten someone as good as Cassel with the 34th overall pick. And to lose Vrabel too? I am livid ... the Pats made a huge mistake."
But, interestingly, that's not the top vote. It runs second to the top finisher, with 34.1%, "Like the deal or not, the bottom line is this trade frees up cap space to make whatever moves they want. I'm expecting something big from the Pats in the coming days."
Right now, it's an unfinished story. The glass is either half empty, or half full.