I am not surprised that New England traded Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to Kansas City for a 2nd round pick. I don’t think there were many takers for Cassel at 14 mil a year (he did well last year but he did have Randy Moss to throw to---Randy made Culpepper look like a first ballot hall-of-famer, remember?). Anyway, Cassel may turn out to be great but I don’t think teams were lining up to pick up the tab as well as give up draft picks for him. And there was no way NE wanted to have about $30 million tied up at QB. So NE did a deal as soon as they saw one. And it was a good one for them---they unloaded a bunch of salary and got a great draft pick. You don’t have to pay through the nose for 2nd rounders and if you’re smart (which NE has been) you’ll get great players in that round anyway.
I am surprised, however, that KC traded for Matt Cassel. Before I go further let me make the standard disclaimer that Scott Pioli is obviously a smart dude who did great at New England as GM. Also, he knows Cassell so he knows better than most GMs what he is getting. But I thought that KC’s problems were not at QB. Heck, Thigpen did pretty well last year. Again, a disclaimer---I didn’t see a single KC game last year. But I did notice that KC was surprisingly competitive for a team that has a horrible O-line, a horrible defense and a 2-14 record. They had wins over division opponents Oakland and Denver and lost 2 games to division opponent San Diego by one point each! The second loss to SD was a freaking debacle for KC where they gave up 2 TDs in the last minute or something like that.
Anyway, I think Thigpen was a big factor in KC being competitive in games. Why do I feel comfortable making that call? Well, Larry Johnson had 874 rushing yds and 948 total yds from scrimmage last year---so he was mostly a non-factor. With a horrible defense (and thereby deficits) and poor support from the running game, the KC offense was probably condemned to the pass and the opposing Ds were sitting on it. Nevertheless, Thigpen found a way to hit his best receivers---Tony Gonzalez had 96 receptions for 1058 yds and 10 TDs while Dwayne Bowe had 86 receptions for 1022 yds and 7 TDs. Not bad. And here’s the key stat---Thigpen threw 18 TDs and only 12 INTs, and KC ended the year ranked 8th out of 32 teams in the Takeaway/Giveaway ratio!! When does that happen? A 2-14 team in the top quarter of the league at the good end of the turnover ratio? That’s pretty good.
KC needs serious help on the O-line and, of course, on their 29th ranked defense. I thought they’d be happy with Thigpen and spend money and draft picks on getting some tackles and some pass rushing studs. Pioli may still manage that through the draft but spending the big money on Cassell (at least for a year, as of now) while Thigpen was on staff is puzzling. Maybe this is just a move to get Gonzalez and the perennial malcontent Johnson to stay in KC and get excited about the future.
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