Back in 2009, the Patriots traded Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs.
Remember Matt Cassel? He went 10-5 as the New England Patriots starter back in 2008 when Tom Brady went down with a torn ACL in Week 1. Though the Pats missed the playoffs that year, the timing of this couldn’t have been better.
It was Cassel’s final year in New England, so his stock was never higher. He passed for a career-high 3,963 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. That’s pretty damn good for your first full season as a starter, and what do ya know — the Kansas City Chiefs needed a franchise quarterback.
So in February of 2009, Bill Belichick and the Pats worked out a sign-and-trade deal with KC and sent Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs in exchange for a second-round pick in the upcoming draft, which ended up being 34th overall.
The Pats selected Patrick Chung with that pick and that ended up working out tremendously. Aside from one lone year with the Philadelphia Eagles, Chung has been with New England for 10 years and won three Super Bowls with the team, racking up 719 tackles, 11 interceptions, 54 passes defensed and 4 fumble recoveries in 141 games.
As for the Chiefs? Well, they signed Cassel to a six-year, $63 million contract and cut ties with him after four seasons, though we will not omit the fact he went 10-5 as a starter in 2010 and made the Pro Bowl. Vrabel started 30 games across two seasons (2009 and 2010) and then retired.
And it’s funny we had these headlines 11 years ago:
People have been questioning if Brady could play for over a decade! And he defied all the doubt!
Nonetheless, this was a huge win (per usual) for Belichick. The Patriots found themselves a mainstay in the secondary for 10 years, and though they lost the Super Bowl in 2011 to the Giants again, they managed to get something out of nothing — Cassel was expected to walk in free agency and Vrabel was all but officially done as a key contributor.
One could say this is really when Belichick’s trade wizardry began.