Shutdown Corner - NFL

Of course, this "something friendly" would also be unethical and possibly a gross violation of NFL rules, but that's not the astounding part.

What's astounding is the notion that Bill Belichick would do anything out of friendship, or really, out of any motivation other than winning. I've always seen him as the type of guy who would insist on being the banker in Monopoly, so he could steal fake money.

The action in question is the Patriots' trading of Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round draft pick. Why is this the source of controversy? Because everyone assumed the Patriots could get a lot more for Cassel than a lonely second-rounder, and because the guy Belichick did trade Cassel to is Scott Pioli, his old pal who helped assemble the Patriots championship teams.

The thinking is that Belichick traded Cassel to the Chiefs at a discount as a favor to his old pal Pioli. At least three people have outright accused Belichick of it, or at least hinted at it: Jay Mariotti compares the trade to Spygate and thinks Roger Goodell needs to take action, Albert Breer talks about the head-scratching going on around the league, and Tim Graham calls the trade "inexplicable."

Graham also reports, via Chris Mortensen, that the Patriots could have gotten a first-round pick, the 12th overall, for Cassel in a three-way trade that would've also involved Jay Cutler, but we'll get to that a bit later. In the meantime, here's a nutshell version of the two different ways of seeing the Cassel-to-KC deal.

1) The "This was an honest trade" side. Bill Belichick would never do anything to hurt his own cause, Cassel still had a lot to prove as a quarterback and the Patriots desperately didn't want to be on the hook to Cassel for $14 million this season, especially if they believe Tom Brady will be healthy.

2) The "Oh, this trade is stinky" side. There's Belichick's reputation as a man who, shall we say, is willing to bend the occasional rule, The Belichick/Pioli relationship, the reports that the Bucs were willing to go as high as a first-and-a-third rounder and not only did Kansas City get Cassel cheap, but the Patriots threw in Mike Vrabel as well.

The stumbling block for me is trying to believe that Bill Belichick did something for the good of some other football team. He's going to give some other team a discount, because he wants to do someone a favor? I just don't see it.

This is Bill Belichick we're talking about here. He'd cheat in a game of Connect Four against a poor orphan child. He didn't become the coach he is by doing people "favors."

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