The Patriots are holding onto Matt Cassel for the pricetag of $14 million in order to hedge against Tom Brady's recovery. But they must have a "Plan A" that doesn't involve handing $14 million to a backup if Brady stays healthy, right? Here's my theory:
If Brady is delayed in returning, Cassel starts the season. Even if Brady looks fine, keeping Cassel around for a few games isn't a terrible idea. But then Brady looks strong and is chucking two or three TD's a game by late September when Matt Ryan/David Garrard/Eli Manning/Joe Flacco/Ben Roethlisberger/etc. goes down with a season-ending injury. (Alternate ending: rookie QB has 4 TD's and 12 INT's after four games). Then the Patriots trade the idle Cassel to a team whose season is in the balance for a few key pieces elsewhere on their team, perhaps also dictated by injury. With that amount of salary moving, and with Cassel's stats this year, his trade could land the Pats a top-notch linebacker or a few proven roleplayers, depending on their need.
Does that sound plausible? In Belichick we trust.