Trade Impact: Matt Cassel to KC

By Chris Burrows

With a full season on the books filling in for the injured Tom Brady in the trenches, Matt Cassel was no longer destined to serve his years as a backup QB. Instead the Kansas Chiefs traded their second round draft pick for the 5th season passer who threw for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns last season for the 11-8 Pats and they plan to completely rebuild their broken offense around the rising QB.

Assuming that you, the fantasy owner, miss out on grabbing top pick Tom Brady for your roster, Matt Cassel is now not only a viable pick—you should grab him near the top—and here’s why.

He’s already a proven talent in the pocket. With just 11 interceptions and a rating of 89.4 that eclipsed even Jay Cutler in 2008, Cassel proved himself as a talented and patient playmaker who is also a reputable leader on the field. He’s coming onto a Kansas City team that has had more than its fair share of trouble at his position and with its renewed confidence that they have a winning QB, the Chiefs can now aggressively build an offense around the former-Pat’s style.

In New England Cassel was comfortable in the air-based offense that garnered him big numbers. That won’t be the case in Kansas City where there is no Wes Welker or Randy Moss to make the short to medium range passes under pressure. At Arrowhead the rushers will be carrying the brunt of the offense with veteran RB Larry Johnson the go-to guy. He hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2006 but he had two impressive 1700+ yardage seasons in 2005 and 2006. He’s got a good at shot at matching those stats with Cassel at the wheel (and he might be a great sleeper RB for your roster). Jamaal Charles will be proving himself in his soph. pro season opposite Johnson—he’ll be a useful utility player.

Cassel’s offense led all NFL teams in 2008 with 356 total first downs. They did it with a close ratio of passes and rushes (186 and 145 respectively) which should be the case again in KC.

The Chiefs air game won’t be ignored and will probably see a good amount of long-range action. Their top receiver from 2008, TE Tony Gonzalez, went to Atlanta but Dwayne Bowe and Mark Bradley will continue to hold on to their starting receiver spots. Bowe and Bradley combined for 1,400 yards of offense and 10 TDs in 2008 while the departed Gonzalez himself accounted for 10 TDs last season. The duo of receivers will be getting more catches under Cassel in first and second down situations in medium to long ranges. They should handily put up respectable numbers for Cassel but can’t be counted on like a duo of Welker-Moss could.

The offensive line may be a weak point in the KC offense. They allowed Tyler Thigpen to be sacked 26 times last season and haven’t added much in the draft or off-season (with fifth round pick offensive tackle Chris Brown the one exception). Of course, that may be just what they need to get their act together as a group and perfect their position-playing.

But to improve on their 2-win 2008 season the Chiefs will need a sturdier defense too—and that’s where they’ve already done some major enhancements. They grabbed defensive end Tyson Jackson, defensive tackle Alex Magee and cornerback Donald Washington in the draft—it’s a clear showing of their commitment to fix a defense that allowed 440 points last season.

Also new in town is head coach Todd Haley who has a history as an Offensive Coordinator and Wide Receivers Coach with several teams—most recently he coached the offense of the post-season venturing Cardinals and he may be exactly what the Chiefs need to start a highly productive offense that can pull them out of their winning season draught.

Cassel may be the inspiration that moves Kansas City up from the bottom of the charts. The front office in KC is breathing some life into this stale team and a young offense built around Cassel is just the place to start. Grab Cassel early and you won’t be disappointed.