ESPN.com's Tim Graham reports that Michael Lombardi, a former NFL executive who worked with Bill Belichick in Cleveland and who now appears on Showtime's Inside The NFL, said on the most recent episode that he has learned the Patriots will put the franchise tag on quarterback Matt Cassel, which will prevent him from becoming a free agent.
"The Patriots are way too smart, and I've talked to people in the organization," said Lombardi. "They are going to franchise Matt Cassel. He's an asset and they can control their ability to trade him if they franchise him."
The Patriots would have to give Cassel a one-year contract worth an average of the highest five quarterback salaries, meaning he'd receive more money in 2009 than Tom Brady.