Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

27 Feb 2009

Mike Vrabel Traded to Chiefs?

ESPN's Tim Graham is reporting that Mike Vrabel is in Kansas City taking a physical prior to being traded to the Chiefs. Graham notes Chief's GM Scott Pioli's background in New England, and suggests that Matt Cassell will be next.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 27 Feb 2009

19 comments, Last at 28 Feb 2009, 1:06pm by MC2


by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 4:00pm

Cassel "could" be next probably should be substituted for "will". Sounds more like just tossing a big name out there more than anything.

by Rich Conley (not verified) :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 4:26pm

I would think its more likely that they were freeing up space for Bodden, considering hes out there today.

by Bobman :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 4:17pm

Well, as prudent as most people thought the Cassell tag was, trading him would be a pretty sure indication that Brady is more than well on his way to being back.

...and just a little risky.... which seems out of character for the Pats.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 5:23pm

Risky yes...but something tells me Belichick is about to make a big play. My gut says Cassell and maybe these Kansas City picks for Julius Peppers, now that some cap room is available.

by An Onimous (not verified) :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 5:45pm

How is "risky" out of character for the Pats? Trading "The Franchise" in favor of a second-year QB who happened to play good-but-not-great as an injury replacement was risky. Picking up Corey Dillon and Randy Moss were both seen as pretty risky, too. Cutting an all-pro safety with no warning just days before the first game of the season? Massive risk. Because all of these risks wound up paying off, we sort of forget just how those moves were perceived at the time they were made.

by Pat Patriot (not verified) :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 4:31pm

Good move to clear some cap space and get some of the older players out of here while they still have some value. Vrabel will be missed but picks will be nice. The DEF looked very old, very quickly last year after Brady went down and they weren't scoring 40 points a week.

Trading Cassel is not risky. They only franchised him to get something in return rather than letting him walk via FA. Brady is playing this year. Even if he's 80%. I think Cassel will be a good player in the right situation. Running a team that won 18 games the previous season is a high percentage way to make yourself look good.

They'll sign a veteran backup and develop O'Connell.

by MJK :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 5:28pm

This makes a certain amount sense if KC is trying to switch to a 3-4, and has a bunch of young backers. Vrabel is versatile--he can play inside or out--and he knows the 3-4 defense (the Patriots' version at least) inside AND out. Also, he's a high character guy, and still has probably two good years of playing left in him. Seems like the ideal sort of veteran you want to bring in to help your young guys.

I hope the Pats got a decent pick in return, though. It's true that they need to get younger at LB, and Vrabel is clearly past his prime, but his flexibility and experience mean that they're trading away a lot of depth. If a starting ILB or OLB goes down, Vrabel's flexibility and experience made it possible to shuffle the entire corps around. I don't think they have anyone on the roster that still offers that... maybe Adalius Thomas, but I was unimpressed when he was trying to switch around last year.

by Anonymous Coward (not verified) :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 5:46pm

Connor Barwin to the Pats? Seems like he could fill a similar role.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 6:00pm

This also probably gives the Chiefs a bit more flexibility as to what they do with #3, where previously you would almost have said they had to draft a pass rushing OLB - presumably Curry or Brown - at that spot.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 6:14pm

Vrabel is one of the smartest defenders in the entire NFL. I believe his athletic ability is highly underrated as well. If he wanted to play TE, he'd be a pro bowler. He's a perfect Bellicheck player.

by Chris (not verified) :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 6:15pm

Random question for you guys.

If you are the Detriot Lions, who would you rather have. Matt Cassell or Matt Stafford and why?

by Theo :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 10:39pm

Cassell because he learned a lot more than a rookie. And that's under Bilichick and Brady.
That's something the offensive players will pick up. So the more experience the better.

by dryheat (not verified) :: Sat, 02/28/2009 - 11:38am

Cassel, no brainer. If Stafford had come out last year, he may have been the fifth QB taken, after Ryan, Flacco, Brohm, and Henne. He's simply one of the top 2 QBs in a historically weak QB draft. I actually think Sanchez has a better chance of being a quality NFL QB. He doesn't have the cannon, but he appears to see the field better, and he just has the aura of being a winner. To me, Stafford looks less a football player than a Boy Scout.

by JQ (not verified) :: Fri, 02/27/2009 - 6:42pm

I wouldn't want either. Cassell is likely a product of those around him and Stafford is a sub 60% college passer

by JoRo :: Sat, 02/28/2009 - 1:14am

I'm with JQ, not a huge fan of either if it costs me a 1st. You gotta remember though that Cutler was a sub 60 passer too, granted he was at Vandy throwing to Lawyers while Stafford threw to other talented players, just saying that you gotta be kinda aware of the situation, cuz so far Ryan has done alright and he didn't do so hot in the Lewin either... though he only played his first season and could come down to earth I spose.

by Mr Shush :: Sat, 02/28/2009 - 8:08am

Me three. Cassel is probably a competent NFL starter, but there are too many throws he can't make for me to be willing to give up more than a second for him, and I'd have to be a team that saw itself as a quarterback away from Superbowl contention and wanted to run a WCO. But of course that would make far too much sense for Childress to do it. Stafford I might consider taking a flyer on from the fifth round onwards. Subjectively, he can make the "wow" throws, but he makes far too many awful decisions and his accuracy is inconsistent. Objectively, he has very few starts (meaning it's more likely that the scouts are wrong than that he's actually that good) and a completion percentage that's actually worse than other recent players at his school (Cutler's was roughly three or four points better than his predecessors'). It's important to remember that Cutler's Lewin projection was really pretty good, and that Lewin commented at the time that it was still probably too low (because of the Vandy issue). Ryan had few starts, but a good completion percentage, and there is a suspicion that the Lewin system ought to incorporate attempts, either instead of or as well as starts (they're strongly co-linear, so it's difficult to separate their effects) - Ryan threw the ball so much in the games he did play that scouts had a lot more to look at than they would for most players with that number of starts, and this usage pattern probably also depressed his completion percentage somewhat.

Sanchez is a horrible risk, because he hasn't played enough for a thorough analysis to be possible, but he has at least looked like a good prospect. Stafford actively looks terrible, to me at least.

by Anonymous1 (not verified) :: Sat, 02/28/2009 - 10:18am

I have to imagine that those saying Cassel is a product of the system didn't watch a single game in the second half of the season. He is the real deal and is without a doubt one of the best 10-12 QBs in the league, after one year starting. He is 27 and hitting his physical prime with little milage on him.

I keep hearing about these throws Cassel can't make and most of it is uninformed gibberish. Cassel certainly needs to work on his deep ball touch, but that is the same thing nearly every first year starter has had to improve on. Brady had a worse deep ball his first year starting, even missing on an all-but game clinching deep toss to a wide open David Patten in SB36. Other than that, there is little Cassel can't do. And odds are he is going to improve.

FWIW, I was very down on Cassel after the last couple of seasons and even went as far as to say he wouldn't make it through the season after the first Miami game. However, he was tremendous down the stretch, probably among the best 5 in the league over that time. Considering that it was his first year starting since high school and by that time teams had plenty of film on him, it stands to reason that the season ending performance is more likely to be closer to Cassel's future than the beginning when he was getting used to pocket pressure and NE had trimmed back the offense.

He is not Scott Mitchell 2.0. He is without a doubt the best QB prospect on the market this year and, frankly in most years. He isn't worth just a first rounder, he is worth the first overall pick.

by jebmak :: Sat, 02/28/2009 - 10:46am

I hope the Lions do something dumb with the first pick, and I have faith.

However, if Cassel goes from the Pats to the Lions, he will go from starting on a team that went 16-0 the previous year to one that went 0-16. I find that mildly interesting.

by MC2 :: Sat, 02/28/2009 - 1:06pm

The "aura of a winner" doesn't mean much to me, except that Sanchez was lucky enough to play on a team where he was surrounded by loads of talent. Remember, Leinart and Vince Young were always described as "winners" leading up to the draft, too.

Also, contrary to some claims, Stafford did not have great receivers to throw to. Massaquoi was a pretty good college receiver, but I can't imagine him going higher than the 4th or 5th round in the draft. As for Green, he was what you would expect from a young "prodigy" type - flashes of brilliance, but no real consistency. If he came out this year, he'd probably be at least a 2nd round pick, but that would be based more on potential than how good he was last year.

Having said all that, I do think Stafford is a big risk as a 1st rounder (let alone the number 1 overall pick). I have way too many questions about his decision-making to make that kind of investment. However, to say that he's only worth a 5th round pick, largely on the basis of a somewhat shaky statistical model, is absurd. If I was a team that was in need of a QB, I would have serious reservations about him, but if he was somehow still there in the 3rd round, you'd be crazy not to jump on him.

As for Stafford vs. Cassel, it depends on the team. If it's a team that wants to win now, like the Vikings, I'd rather have Cassel. If it's a team that's building for the future, like the Lions, I'd roll the dice with Stafford. But I'm not crazy about either of them, to be honest.

And I don't think Cassel is the next Scott Mitchell, I think he's more likely to be the next Daunte Culpepper: a guy who learned how to play QB with a huge built-in edge named Randy Moss, and who won't look like anywhere near the same player when that edge is taken away.