Talking Cassel, Cutler
Now that the Matt Cassel-for-Jay Cutler, Detroit-Denver-New England threesome has fizzled out and Cassel is a Chief, two questions remain: Why didn't the Lions want Cassel, and who will be under center when Detroit opens the season next year?
The Lions have been mum on yesterday's trade news, but reading between the lines it's clear they weren't enamored with Tom Brady's pressed-into-action backup. Kansas City acquired Cassel for the 34th pick in the draft, the Lions own No. 33 (plus two first-rounders), and it's reasonable to assume they could have outbid the Chiefs had they wanted Cassel bad enough. For those who say KC got a steal because of new general manager Scott Pioli's relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a) that's not how it works in the ruthless NFL, and b) what about new Lions coach Jim Schwartz's ties with Belichick? Wouldn't it have made more sense to move the quarterback to another close friend outside the division (even if he wouldn't have been able to stick it to another Belichick disciple, Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, twice a year)?
To be fair, Tampa Bay, it seems, was willing to outbid both the Lions and Chiefs for Cassel in an effort to ship him to Denver for Cutler, who in my eyes is neck-and-neck with Matt Ryan for the best young quarterback (three years or less) in the league. But back to Cassel for a minute, the fact that he went for less than the going rate Matt Schaub cost two second-rounders and a swap of firsts two years ago suggests teams weren't anxious to pay a possible one-year wonder franchise money.
Cutler, meanwhile, is now the hottest commodity on the market even though Denver insists he's staying put. He's 25, has all the requisite tools, and his relationship with McDaniels and the Broncos is strained at best. So what are the chances the Lions land Cutler? In a straight-up swap, probably not good. It'd be suicide for Denver to deal Cutler without getting a quarterback in return, and now that Cassel is off the market there aren't many options. Matt Stafford I guess would qualify, but Mike Shanahan wasn't fired so the Broncos can rebuild.
For now, Daunte Culpepper remains the starter in Detroit and the failure of this deal leads me to believe he'll be there when the season begins. Dan Orlovsky is likely headed elsewhere in free agency, Drew Stanton isn't in the mix, and as of Saturday the Lions hadn't set up visits with available signal callers like J.P. Losman, though they'll surely add a veteran this offseason if Orlovsky doesn't re-sign.
Stafford and Mark Sanchez remain in the mix as first-round draft picks, and now that Kansas City's acquired its quarterback there's a chance one could slide to 20 if the Lions pass on both at No. 1. Even if it's not in the first round, I'd expect Detroit to take a quarterback somewhere in April's draft.
In the bigger picture, it'll be interesting to see where Cassel and the Chiefs go from here. Remember, Lions owner William Clay Ford promoted Martin Mayhew and Tom Lewand after the season without so much as interviewing outside candidates. Pioli should have been in the mix. Now, he's made the biggest splash of the offseason while the Lions are still charting their course at quarterback.
Labels: Bill Belichick, Dan Orlovsky, Daunte Culpepper, Drew Stanton, Jay Cutler, Jim Schwartz, Josh McDaniels, Mark Sanchez, Martin Mayhew, Matt Cassel, Matt Ryan, Matt Stafford, Scott Pioli, Tom Lewand