Patriots Facing Salary Cap Problems if They Franchise Matt Cassel

The New England Patriots have been in the news quite a bit the past week, and their quarterback situation for 2009 seems to be the primary reason. First, there was the report from Mike Lombardi that it was, pretty much, a slam dunk that New England would place the franchise tag on free-agent-to-be quarterback Matt Cassel. Then, on Tuesday, Wilson passed along the report from the Dan Patrick show that Tom Brady's knee is still a major league mess, and that we could see a two-headed monster of Tom Terrific and Cassel next season for New England.

So, naturally, Tom Curran of NBC Sports passes along today's news that the Patriots have not yet made up their minds with Cassel, possibly because franchising him could destroy their salary cap in 2009.

From Curran:

A source who'll be directly involved in the call on the Patriots ascendant quarterback said in an email that the report was "speculation," adding "needless to say, no decision has been made."

As we've already learned, franchising Cassel would cost the Patriots over $14 million in 2009. When you combine that with the $14.6 million Brady is set to make, you've got over $28 million tied up in two players playing the same position. To further complicate things, and depending on which reports you believe, Brady may not be healthy enough to play early in the season, while Cassel ... well ... what if he's just not as good as we think right now?

Curran also points out that should the Patriots tag Cassel, and assuming nobody restructures existing contracts, the Patriots will have $65 million of the $123 million salary cap tied up in just seven players.

Making things even tighter for the Pats is the fact that several other key players also have ballooning cap numbers in 2009. Unless restructuring is done, Brady, Cassel, Richard Seymour, Randy Moss, Adalius Thomas, Matt Light and Jarvis Green have 2009 cap hits that add up to approximately $65 million. That would leave New England with just $58 million to pay for the other 46 men on the roster. Currently, the Patriots have about $101 million allocated to 44 players. If they franchise Cassel, that will be close to $115 million for 45.

Sounds like quite a headache for the New England front office. You know, maybe now would be the right time for Scott Pioli to consider moving on to another team.

Regardless of what the Patriots do -- or don't do -- with Cassel, he's still looking at a huge check this offseason, whether it be a $14 million one-year deal with New England, or a long-term deal with another team desperately looking for a quarterback.

Patriots Facing Salary Cap Problems if They Franchise Matt Cassel originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Wed, 07 Jan 2009 16:40:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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