Wednesday, November 26, 2008

QB 4 Hire

Dennie Green writes in regarding his erstwhile employer:
I think being a fan of a team with no QB I would prefer Brady. This is based on 1) a completely uninformed opinion on my part that a pocket QB like Brady should not be limited by having had a leg injury of this nature (unlike a to RB or Vick-type QB) and 2) that we really don't know how Cassel will progress. Sure, they have almost identical stats through 10 starts, but that does not mean that Cassel will develop into the same QB that Brady did. Also, the Vikings are pretty much a solid QB (and maybe WR) from being a very good team. Even if Brady has fewer years left than Cassel, they might be enough to take advantage of the talent that the Vikings do have now. They can also try and find their own Cassel in future drafts for the post-Brady era. Why pay Cassel nearly Brady money when you won't know what you are getting.
Now that I've thought about it for a few days, I agree with this assessment. Even if you were relatively confident that Cassel was a can't-miss winner at QB and would be Brady-esque after a few years of seasoning, the boom-and-bust nature of the NFL makes your time horizons pretty brief. In other words, you can plan one, maybe two seasons ahead, but beyond that is essentially impossible.

I think the Pats will get more or less the same in a trade for Brady or Cassel. This is not to say that Brady isn't worth more than Cassel, but rather that teams aren't going to make a Hershel Walker type deal (put another way, the Player Value to Trade Compensation graph asymptotes). Since they are a Super Bowl contender in 2009, and you're better off with a 32 year old Brady that season, then that's who you go with. What you don't do is worry about 2014 when Brady is 37 and Cassel would be in his prime. That is too far away for any effective planning.

I'll let another fan have the last word, with point 6 probably being the most important:

On the merits of Brady/Cassel, I have a few points:

(1) Brady is certainly a good value. At least he was last year. He's obviously the best QB, and he's not the highest-paid. That means that the Pats are getting a comparative advantage with Brady, at least against some teams. This would be a lot easier of a problem if that wasn't the case (consider when MJ was the best hoopster on the planet, but also getting paid double the second-best player; in a hard cap system, he might have been a bad value.

(2) Cassel is probably a good value. He's getting paid chump money to be an average starter. But it's only been half a season. He's no more baluable now than a minor-leaguer lighting it up in September. We'll have to see if he can hit a curveball after they find the hole in his swing.

(3) Cassel is less of a deal than he appears, since he'll command a salary that, in theory, makes him value-neutral as soon as he's a free agent.

(4) Brady's trade value might not be as high as you think: for all the reasons he's (potentially) not a great value to the Pats: huge contract, possiblyt ijury, getting old, etc.

(5) This would only a winning move for the Pats if the value they gain from Cassel can be translated in increased skill at other positions. That's not snap-your-fingers easy; there's a lot of variance in signing new players, nevermind the draft.

(6) One huge problem is risk-averse management: even if trading Brady is the right move, it has to be very clealy the right move or no onne will take the cahnce of the public-relations disaster of trading brady and then Cassel being a bust.