The New England Patriots must feel certain Tom Brady's injured knee will be fine next season.
After putting the franchise tag on Matt Cassel as insurance for their two-time Super Bowl Most Valuable Player, the Patriots shipped Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday. The Chiefs gave up the 34th pick in the April draft for both players.
The Chiefs have the third overall selection after a franchise-worst 2-14 season. In yielding their second-round draft choice, they acquire a reliable 12-year veteran linebacker and a proven young quarterback.
Brady's rehabilitation of a severe knee injury was set back when an infection forced a second operation. By putting the franchise tag on Cassel, New England would have had to pay him $14.5 million to keep him as a backup.
Cassel threw for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns in 15 starts last season.
Scott Pioli, the Patriots' former personnel director, was hired as the Chiefs' general manager in January.
Broncos:: The team signed seven-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins, who has spent his entire 13-year career with the Eagles. The Broncos also signed ex-Dolphins safety Renaldo Hill, lured two free agents from the Patriots in wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and long-snapper Lonie Paxton, and reached terms with special teams standout Darrell Reid, an ex-Colt.
Cowboys:: The team acquired quarterback Jon Kitna from the Lions for cornerback Anthony Henry and signed former Falcons linebacker Keith Brooking.
Jets-Eagles:: New York shored up its shaky secondary, acquiring two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard from Philadelphia for undisclosed draft picks.
Et cetera:: Ex-Titans wide receiver Brandon Jones agreed to join the 49ers, getting a five-year contract worth $16.5 million. San Francisco also set up a meeting this week with free-agent quarterback Kurt Warner, according to The Sacramento Bee. ... The Eagles signed former Bengals tackle-guard Stacy Andrews to a six-year contract. He is the older brother of Philadelphia right guard Shawn Andrews. ... The Jets re-signed right guard Brandon Moore to a four-year, $16 million deal. ... Left guard Derrick Dockery is returning to the Redskins, reaching terms. The Bills released him Thursday. ... The Giants signed ex-Falcons linebacker Michael Boley to a five-year, $25 million contract. ... The Saints reached five-year deals with offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb and linebacker Jonathan Vilma. ... Tight end Jim Kleinsasser re-signed with the Vikings. ... Ex-Panthers offensive lineman Geoff Hangartner signed with the Bills. ... The Texans signed ex-Cardinals defensive end Antonio Smith and hired Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews as an assistant offensive coach.