Underlying any other consideration of the Pats' negotiating position is this -- how many $ is Cassell worth to the Pats as a player? Here's how I see it: Case 1: Brady is out for the season (again). Then Cassell is the only player who could step into Brady's place and be a Really Good Starter. Based on how he performed in the latter part of the season, the value of that is somewhere around the true franchise tag amount. Yes, I know it's high, but Cassell uniquely has knowledge of the Patriot system. Case 2: Brady is healthy. Then the main value of a backup QB is as an insurance policy. What's the probability of a previously durable 30-something QB coming off an injury going down again? 20%? Cassell's value in this scenario is a few million dollars. Case 3: Brady starts the season impaired. Then Cassell's value is somewhere inbetween. Put numbers and probabilities on all three scenarios, and you have an expected value. E.g., if you think the probabilities are 10-60-30% (which is more optimistic for Brady than Tomase might put them at), and the numbers are $15-3-8 million, then that works out to a $5.7 million dollar value for Cassell the player in 2009. Shift the probabilities to 20-30-50%, and his value goes up to $7.9 million. In any case, unless Brady is expected to be out -- in which case trade talks are moot anyway -- Cassell's value to the Pats is a lot less than $14 million, so everybody knows they have an incentive to make a deal happen.