For the Patriots, trading Matt Cassel makes sense after the career backup seized his moment in the spotlight last year once Brady was injured in Week 1. What doesn’t make sense, is the Broncos willing to part ways with proven starter, Jay Cutler, in order to acquire Cassel.
A quarterback that walks away from a season with an 11–5 record and a QB rating of 89.4 is going to get attention when dangled in front of more desperate teams, but I wouldn’t have thought Denver belonged to that group.
Cassel landed in Kansas City instead, but word had leaked that the Broncos were ready to trade away their starting quarterback, Jay Cutler, in a three-team trade in order to reunite Cassel with former Patriots offensive coordinator and new Bronco’s head coach, Josh McDaniels. It’s a logical approach; the two had success last year in New England together, so theoretically it could result with the same outcome in Denver. But at what cost does a team take that chance?
Cutler felt slighted by the team’s interest in a new quarterback and initially refused to meet with management to try to repair the relationship. He was very public with his gripes and seemed to be talking his way out of town and into other trade scenarios.
Since then, McDaniels has back-peddled with statements that the Broncos only listened to trade talks and never initiated any negotiations. Cutler will be the Mile-High starter next year and should be for many years to come.
Assuming that his diabetes never seriously interferes with his playing career, Cutler could fall into the ranks of the great ones once he decides to hang it up. He has terrific arm-strength and produced in an offense that had to hire anybody with legs to play running back last year. He can be a loose-cannon which has resulted in untimely interceptions – not that any interception has ever been timely, really – but I remember another grey-bearded gentleman that recently concluded a hall-of-fame career (for now) that was labeled as a similar unbolted firearm himself. He worked out alright, didn’t he?
Cassel has been worthwhile in one season on a team managed by masterminds. If the NFL had a salon, it would reside in Foxborough. Not to say that he doesn’t deserve credit on composing a season many observers felt he wasn’t capable of performing (this observer included), but it’s not enough experience yet to call him proven.
I feel he’s comparable, not in style as much as situation, to that of Texans quarterback, Matt Schaub. He too garnered interest from the league, and eventually earned a nice contract, after solid performances in Atlanta as a backup. When healthy, Schaub has played well for Houston, but has yet to assert himself as, say, a top-10 player at his position. I think Cassel would become that same solid-but-never-elite quarterback in either KC or Denver, but Jay Cutler has the physical abilities to become an MVP someday in this league.
It doesn’t make sense to trade away a player like that unless he no longer wants to be there, which, it seems, nearly happened in Denver. The Broncos would be wise to value that rocket hanging from Cutler’s right shoulder a little more; it could really take them places.