NFL Notebook

Chiefs and Cassel reach six-year deal

From Wire Services / April 26, 2009
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According to the NFL Network, the Chiefs and quarterback Matt Cassel have reached an agreement on a new six-year contract.

NFL Network's Michael Lombardi reported yesterday the deal includes $36 million in guaranteed money. Complete financial details weren't immediately known.

Cassel was acquired from the Patriots, along with linebacker Mike Vrabel, in February. He led New England to an 11-5 record in place of injured quarterback Tom Brady, and finished with 3,693 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. The Patriots put the franchise tag (and $14 million salary for 2009) on Cassel before trading him.

Stafford ready for role
Matthew Stafford says "winning solves a lot of problems," and he's got plenty of them to overcome with the Lions.

The NFL's first 0-16 team began a massive rebuilding project in the NFL draft by selecting the Georgia quarterback with the No. 1 pick. Stafford signed a six-year contract with $41.7 million in guarantees and $78 million in maximum value.

"The great thing about the game of football is it's a team game," Stafford said on a conference call. "I'm just going to be one piece of the puzzle."

The strong-armed quarterback might get a chance to develop slowly, watching Daunte Culpepper from the sideline. But Stafford isn't conceding anything.

"I'm a competitive guy," Stafford said. "I'm going to try to get ready as quick as I can."

Harvin's their guy
The Vikings went with big-play threat Percy Harvin with the 22d overall choice, choosing the Florida receiver despite reports of a failed drug test and durability questions.

"When we evaluated him just on football between the lines, he was definitely a top-10 pick," said Rick Spielman, the Vikings' vice president for player personnel.

The 5-foot-11-inch Harvin split time between running back and receiver in three seasons at Florida. He racked up nearly 3,900 total yards to help the Gators to two national titles. But several published reports said Harvin failed a drug test at the February combine.

Spielman raved about Harvin's ability and insisted the team was satisfied with his character after several visits with the native of Virginia Beach, Va. Coach Brad Childress made a personal visit to Florida, which Spielman said helped seal the deal.

"We felt comfortable enough that he was just too explosive of a playmaker and too hard to pass up when we were picking," Spielman said.

Up for grabs
Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin were available, but the Raiders passed up those more heralded receivers to take the fastest of them all, Maryland's Darrius Heyward-Bey, with the seventh pick. Heyward-Bey ran the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds at the combine and finding a big-play receiver for quarterback JaMarcus Russell was a priority for the Raiders, who got just 82 receptions from their wide receivers last season . . . The 49ers benefited the most from the Raiders' surprise decision, snatching up Crabtree with the 10th pick. He was widely expected to be the first receiver selected, but Crabtree might have slipped in teams' estimation when a stress fracture was discovered in his left foot at the combine, forcing him to cancel several workouts . . . The Browns made three early trades, overhauled their receiving corps, and got help for both lines on the first day of the draft. Eric Mangini's first draft for Cleveland had a little of everything - but nothing involving Braylon Edwards. Mangini made three first-round deals, the first one trading the No. 5 pick to the Jets - his former team - but concluded the day with Edwards, Cleveland's most talented player, still on his roster. Rumored deals with the Giants never materialized, and the Browns went ahead and took two wide receivers in the second round: Ohio State's Brian Robiskie and Georgia's Mohamed Massaquoi. General manager George Kokinis was asked if he expected Edwards to be with the Browns after the draft ends today. "I don't anticipate anything different," he said . . . The Giants went about replacing Plaxico Burress's production by drafting North Carolina receiver Hakeem Nicks with the 29th pick. "He's a big, strong kid, very productive," said Giants GM Jerry Reese. Nicks had 68 catches for 1,222 yards and 12 TDs last season.

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