It's looking more and more likely that the New England Patriots will put the franchise tag on first-year starter Matt Cassel. The news was first reported by Mike Lombardi, then confirmed by Chris Mortensen. Placing the franchise tag would cost the Patriots $14.835 million, the average salary of the five-highest quarterbacks in the league from the prior season. The Patriots would be paying more than $29 million for two quarterbacks next year; injured backup Tom Brady has a salary of $14.6 million in 2009. With Matt Cassel franchised, the Patriots would have two options: trade him if Brady's knee heals, or keep Cassel should Brady's rehab from injury not go as planned. Teams that could become major factors in the Cassel sweepstakes include two NFC North teams, the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions. The Lions have already announced their intention to take a quarterback at No. 1 in the draft. Minnesota was rumored to be interested in Brett Favre and Donovan McNabb last offseason, and their poor and inconsistent quarterback play for the Vikings this year should not change that stance. In the case that Brady's knee is not fully recovered by Week One, fantasy owners would be best to avoid either New England quarterback for the time being. Both would be top-10 quarterbacks with no competition (with the edge going to Brady), but Brady would likely take over the job midway through the year if he were to recover.