Ever since Matt Cassel became the fifth NFL quarterback to throw for 400 yards in back-to-back games, there has been talk that the Patriots should keep Cassel and trade Tom Brady. While Drew Bledsoe is living proof that it's at least theoretically possible the Patriots would trade Brady, it is extremely, extremely unlikely, for three reasons.
First, Brady is still in the process of rehabbing his knee. While he has been spotted in Boston walking without a limp, that's not the same thing as being ready to play in the NFL. Moreover, trades in the NFL are almost always conditioned on a player being able to pass a physical.
Second, trading Brady is illogical from the standpoint of getting value. On the one hand, if Brady is healthy, and able to perform at close to the same level as his 2007 season, he's a better quarterback than Cassel, and trading him would be utterly illogical.
On the other hand, if he's not able to perform to that level, that would drastically lower his trade value; in other words, Brady's value will likely never be lower than it is right now.
Third, one of the stated reasons for trading Brady is his $14.6 million cap hit, and how the Patriots would be able to use the money they save to sign other players. Unfortunately, this argument rests on a flawed understanding of either the salary cap or Brady's contract. Brady'scap hit for 2009 consists of:
- $6.6 million in prorated bonuses from previous seasons. There is nothing the Patriots can do to change this.
- $3 million in roster bonus. This is due on the first day of the league year, and the Patriots cannot trade him before this is due, so it will hit the 2009 salary cap. [If it doesn't, then Brady would be a free agent, and that's not going to happen, either.]
- $5 million in salary. If the Patriots were to trade Brady before the 2009 season begins, this money would come off the cap. So, the Pats would have an extra $5 million, right? Wrong.
- If the Patriots trade Brady, then, because 2010 is slated to be an uncapped year, the signing bonus prorations originally scheduled for 2010 must be accelerated and accounted for in the cap for 2009. Those prorations total $3.7 million.
Thus, the Patriots will save a whopping $1.3 million in cap room by trading Brady--and that's before you start factoring in the millions it would take to keep Cassel long-term.
Again, it's at least theoretically possible the Patriots will trade Brady. But it's very, very unlikely, because it just doesn't make much sense.