4. Kansas City Chiefs Land Cassel
When the free-agency period opened in late February, the Patriots had a problem. Actually, they had two of them.
Quarterback Matt Cassel was consuming $14.65 million in cap space, and linebacker Matt Vrabel was due to receive a $1-million roster bonus on the third day of the league year.
Chiefs GM Scott Pioli, who spent nine seasons in New England before getting his current job, knew the Pats needed to unload both contracts in order to focus on pursuing new free agents and/or retaining their own.
So Pioli moved quickly and quietly to lay the foundation for a trade that sent only a second-round pick to New England for both players. By the time the Broncos (coached by former Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who also should have known the predicament his former team faced) commenced the process of chasing Cassel, it was too late.
So now the Chiefs have a quarterback who has shown he can perform successfully at the professional level -- and a veteran linebacker who can provide real leadership for a locker room that sorely needs it. And the Chiefs gave up only a second-round pick for both of them.