FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots have placedthe franchise tag on Matt Cassel.
Thursday's move means the quarterback remains a free agent, butthe Patriots can match any offer made by another team or allow himto sign with that team in exchange for two first-round draft picks.
If and when he signs the one-year franchise tag designation,worth $14.65 million for 2009, he will be under contract to thePatriots, who could keep him or trade him.
Cassel's stock soared last season after he took over for TomBrady, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the openinggame. Cassel helped the Patriots to an 11-5 record, but they missedthe playoffs.