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Patriots put franchise tag on QB Matt Cassel

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.

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