- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 1, 2009

From combined dispatches

Matt Cassel, who stepped in for an injured Tom Brady last year and led New England to an 11-5 record, was traded to Kansas City on Saturday with linebacker Mike Vrabel for a second-round draft pick.

Cassel emerged as a solid quarterback in his fourth season with the Patriots after Brady hurt his knee less than eight minutes into the opener against Kansas City and was done for the season. A career backup who hadn’t started a game since high school, Cassel threw for 3,693 yards and 21 touchdowns in 15 starts.

The Chiefs, coming off a 2-14 season, sent the 34th pick in April’s draft to New England.

While Brady began rehabbing a severe knee injury that required a second operation because of infection, the Patriots put the franchise tag on Cassel. That meant the team would have to pay him $14.5 million to keep him as insurance.

Scott Pioli, who was hired as the Chiefs’ general manager in January after seven years as a Patriots executive, moved swiftly to address one of Kansas City’s biggest needs. Tyler Thigpen, a former seventh-round pick who was No. 3 on the depth chart at the beginning of the year, wound up starting most of the time last season.

“I have a long history with both players,” Pioli said. “Mike and Matt are men that I respect both personally and professionally. I look forward to having them as new members of the Chiefs family.”

JETS: Brandon Moore is back on New York’s offensive line after a deal for his replacement fell through.

The Jets re-signed the right guard to a four-year, $16 million deal a day after Pittsburgh left guard Chris Kemoeatu turned down an offer from New York and returned to the Steelers.

The move comes a day after the Jets made a big splash in free agency, signing former Baltimore linebacker Bart Scott. New York also acquired cornerback Lito Sheppard from Philadelphia for draft picks.

BRONCOS: Denver signed seven-time Pro Bowl safety Brian Dawkins, who had spent his entire 13-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Although Dawkins turns 36 next season and is clearly on the downside of his career, he brings a hard-hitting style and leadership qualities coveted by new Broncos coach Josh McDaniels.

McDaniels, New England’s offensive coordinator before he was hired to replace Mike Shanahan in Denver, envisions his new veteran safety playing a role similar to what Rodney Harrison had in New England in recent seasons.

The Broncos also signed free agent safety Renaldo Hill, who helped lead the Miami Dolphins’ turnaround last season.

EAGLES: Philadelphia bolstered its offensive line by signing former Bengals right tackle Stacy Andrews to a six-year contract.

Andrews spent his first five seasons with Cincinnati and is the older brother of Eagles right guard Shawn Andrews, a former All-Pro coming off a troubled year. The 6-foot-7, 342 pound Stacy Andrews is expected to replace Jon Runyan, who started every game with Philadelphia since 2000.

COWBOYS: Dallas has acquired quarterback Jon Kitna to back up Tony Romo.

The Cowboys sent cornerback Anthony Henry to Detroit in exchange.

Kitna finished the 2008 season on injured reserve because of a back injury and was not expected to return to the Lions. He is due a $1 million roster bonus March 3.

RAMS: St. Louis and Baltimore Ravens center Jason Brown have agreed to terms of a free agent deal.

The Rams identified Brown as a key player in the rebuilding of their offensive line.

Brown and Giants safety James Butler both made visits Friday, the first day of free agency. Talks were ongoing with Butler.

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