New England Patriots vs Kansas City Chiefs: Revisting the Cassel-Vrabel Trade

Aaron DodgeAnalyst IFebruary 23, 2011

February 28th will mark two full years since the New England Patriots sent quarterback Matt Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for the 33rd overall pick in the 2009 National Football League Draft.

New England selected Patrick Chung out of Oregon with the pick and his quick ascension to the safety throne has gone just about as well as anyone could have hoped. With two years under his belt, the young safety has already developed into a starter for the Patriots.

In his rookie campaign, Chung started just one game but was able to contribute on a consistent basis. He rotated onto the field for the defense and saw time on special teams- racking up 37 tackles, 2 sacks and an interception on the season. 

His sophomore effort saw a jump in playing time, games started and statistical production, as Chung moved from rotational to starting safety next to Brandon Meriweather. Chung posted 96 tackles, 3 interceptions for 96 yards, and a touchdown in 2010 and looks cemented in the Patriots secondary for years to come.

But what has come of Matt Cassel, who led the Brady‐less Patriots to a 11-5 season in 2008? And what of Mike Vrabel, who once led the team with 12.5 sacks in 2007?

Following the 2008 trade, Chiefs GM Scott Pioli locked Cassel up with a six-year, $63 million deal with $40.5 million guaranteed over the first three years, pending options.

While his first year with the Chiefs was rocky at best, Cassel proved that he could produce in his second season as the starter. He passed for 3,001 yards, 27 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. Cassel's TD:INT ratio ranked second only to Tom Brady, whom Cassel ended up replacing in the 2010 Pro Bowl.

Mike Vrabel left New England rather unwillingly, and played a reduced role for the Chiefs during his stay. He racked up 2 sacks and 100 total tackles in two seasons, as age caught up to the 35-year-old, whose contract expired at the end of the 2010.

So the question stands, did the Patriots get the better deal or did Scott Pioli and the Chiefs steal a franchise quarterback?

Cassel very well may have peaked in 2010- and even if he did, he peaked in the right place. He's going to be a prominent and effective quarterback for a considerable amount of time. The Chiefs did very well for themselves to acquire him for the price they paid, considering what the market is now for capable passers.

Patrick Chung has a very high ceiling, which I doubt we've seen the best of. If he can continue to improve his game and mature at the pace he has shown he can, this trade could arguably reach the level of equality for both franchises.

However, comparing the players outright isn't the correct lens to look at this deal in. The Patriots were in a tough position with Cassel. They had to move him in order to escape the price of his franchise tag and were looking to do so in an unfriendly market.

They were right to get the most value that they could from the second best quarterback on their roster and a 33-year-old linebacker. And they got the best value that they could out of the draft pick they received in the deal. On the NFL scale, this trade worked out to be quite equal for both teams considering some of the robberies that have been committed.

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