New England announced that they were designating Cassel as the team's Franchise player for 2009 earlier this week. The move, which was expected, allowed the Patriots time to decide the best course of action to deal with a recovering starter and a player who in his own right had earned the opportunity to lead the team.
The Patriots were a team favored to win the Super Bowl in 2008 according to oddsmakers. After the first quarter of their home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, that forecast took a dramatic turn. Tom Brady went to the locker room with a "knee injury" and his return was doubtful The Patriots plan B (Cassel) stepped in to take over and Patriot Nation held its breath.
After the Patriots earned the victory, Cassel said all the right things. The weeks that followed, the young signal-caller had his ups and downs. After a blowout loss the eventual Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 13, Cassel caught up to the speed of the game guiding the Patriots to four straight victories to end the season.
According to the report Cassel faxed his acceptance to the Patriots, the NFL and the NFLPA on Saturday. He will receive the money despite no having signed a contract yet.
Tom Brady's $14.6 million cap number for 2009 combined with Cassel's tag number of $14.65 commits over $29 million of next season's $123 million limit to one position
As Patriots Insider reported earlier, New England had the cap space to make Cassel an offer at any time. According to information provided by one league insider, they still have enough space to sign their rookie Draft class without doing any major restructurings.
The Patriots will need to deal with the cap crunch if they wish to resign some of their other free agents.
Hot Topic: What's Cassel worth in a Trade?