Cassel, the Patriots’ franchise player? Is Gisele down with that?

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On tonight’s edition of “Inside the NFL” on Showtime (9 p.m.), there’s a look back at the 2008 season that includes a retrospective of those who’ve passed away (Gene Upshaw, Georgia Frontiere and Sammy Baugh, for example), Warren Sapp opining about why the Tampa Bay Bucs floundered at the end and missed the playoffs, and Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth matching wits about the Dallas Cowboys’ choke job.

Then there’s a look ahead as to what may happen in 2009.

Such as, could Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, the former Chatsworth High and USC player who’s now an unrestricted free agent after leading the team to an 11-5 record, end up playing for the New York Jets?

Mike Lombardi, the “Inside” insider, has it figured out this way: “The Patriots are way to smart, and I’ve talked to people in the organization. They are going to franchise Matt Cassel. He’s an asset and they can control their ability to trade him if they franchise him.”

What would a franchise tag (explanation linked here) mean for Cassel? Ron Borges of the Boston Herald writes (linked here) that Cassel would be smart to take the Patriots’ offer if given a franchise-tag opportunity — and, with Tom Brady coming back, probably become the most expensive guy standing back on the sidelines, staying injury free.

The topic comes up after there’s speculation about what the Jets do if Brett Favre walks away.

“The Jets’ quarterback of the future is no where to be found,” says Lombardi. “And that is what makes the Jets’ job not very attractive for potential coaches. Remember with all these jobs opening, the teams have to recruit the coaches as much as the coaches have to recruit the teams.”

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