Patriots put franchise tag on QB Matt Cassel

FOXBOROUGH, Mass.  The New England Patriots have placed the franchise tag on Matt Cassel.

Thursdays move means the quarterback remains a free agent, but the Patriots can match any offer made by another team or allow him to sign with that team in exchange for two first-round draft picks.

If and when he signs the one-year franchise tag designation, worth $14.65 million for 2009, he will be under contract to the Patriots, who could keep him or trade him.