Should the New England Patriots Keep Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, or Both?

John LewisSenior Writer IJanuary 4, 2009

With the New England Patriots now beginning their offseason as we speak, let the rumor mill begin.  Should the Patriots keep Tom Brady and his surgically repaired knee and let Matt Cassel go off into free agency?  Or should they sign Cassel in the event that Brady isn't 100% by the start of next season?

Hey why not sign Cassel and trade Brady?  This might sound ridiculous, but think of all the players and draft picks the Pats could get from the sale of Brady!  Remember Hershel Walker?  On October 12, 1989 the Cowboys were able to get five players and six draft picks from the Minnesota Vikings for the now infamous running back.

Players like Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, and Darren Woodson were drafted and three Super Bowls later the Cowboys came out on top of the most lopsided trade in NFL only referred to as "The Trade".

Think of how many teams would covet a quarterback like Tom Brady and what they would give up to get him.  Hey the Vikings are only a QB away from making a Super Bowl run and they have a history of giving away the farm to get what they want.

Let's just run down the list of reasons why the Pats could sign Cassel and trade Brady:

First, has Tom Brady gotten too big for the rest of his team?  His offseason has looked like this...have knee surgery, get an infection in knee, supposedly get engaged, buy a huge home, and fall behind on rehabbing schedule according to several reports. 

Not that I blame Brady for wanting to be with Gisele Bündchen forever, but rehabbing is a must and I'm sure the rest of the Pats organization is wondering what he's doing with this time off.

What happens if Brady isn't ready to go by the start of next season?  They can't rely on another new QB and risk falling behind until Tom is ready.  Cassel is the perfect answer...he's ready now and could be had for less than the $8 million Brady will make for 2008 and another $8 million for 2009.

Let's also not forget that Brady's contract runs out in 2010 and Cassel could be signed long term without the hassle of a contract negotiation.

If you compare the season Cassel had to Brady's career they are pretty similar.  Until Moss and Welker showed up, Brady averaged 3,593 yards passing, 24.5 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.  Put that side by side with Cassel and he had 3,693 passing yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 int's.

Let's not forget that in the beginning, Cassel did nothing but hand off and as he learned his role he began the throw the ball more so his numbers could have been better.  This easily proves that the Pats can win with Cassel.

As if the above doesn't show why Brady could be traded here's more!

New England can't sign both Cassel and keep Brady...they would be paying too much for the position and they have glaring holes in their defense.  Which is another reason why trading Brady would be good...getting better defensive players.

The Pats fell short in several key areas defensively, one in particular being third down and in turnover differential.

They finished 26th out of 32 teams in third-down defense. They recorded only one more takeaway than giveaway which ranked 15th in the NFL. They were awful in the red zone defensively, finishing 31st in touchdown percentage.

This would allow them the ability to upgrade at several positions all the while keeping their offense in place, thus making guys like Randy Moss happy...and we all know what that means.

The Pats also have, according to some draft experts, a decent backup in Kevin O'Connell.  He was described by some as a draft sleeper...much like Cassel who didn't even start a college game.

On a side note, Belichick has worked his magic on Cassel and now knows he can win games with him.  While Brady has three Super Bowl rings and always seems cool under pressure, he was an unknown as well when he entered the league and look what happened.

The same could be true for Matt Cassel...the Patriots need to pull the trigger on Brady and sign Cassel.

What do you think?