The New England Patriots finally made a mistake.

Trading Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs signals the end of their run as the NFL's smartest and most successful franchise.

It seems the trade, in which all the Patriots got was a second-round pick, was much more about telling the world they trust Tom Brady than getting rid of Cassel because of cost.

Truth is no one should have faith in Brady.

Sure, the three-time Super Bowl winner has had a good run and should be considered one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

But, much like the Pittsburgh Steelers, the best way to be a consistent franchise in the NFL is knowing when to cut ties with veterans who may not perform at the level they once did.

With Brady, no one has absolutely any idea how his surgically repaired knee will respond to the rigors of a 16-game regular season and, possibly, the playoffs.

Carson Palmer, quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals, who was once mentioned in the same breath as Brady and Peyton Manning, experienced a similar injury three years ago and has never returned to the level he once was.

Now, New England is one wrong hit on Brady away from going to another unproven, inexperienced quarterback as its starter.

Except, whoever it is, won't have the pedigree and talent of Cassel.

It's simple — the Patriots traded the wrong quarterback.

Trading Brady would've saved the team money (which was said to be a side motivator in the Cassel deal) and gotten — at minimum – a first round pick or maybe two.

With an aging defense the two draft picks would provide more leverage for future trades or a shot of adrenaline to guys like Richard Seymour and Rodney Harrison.

Not to mention Cassel proved he can lead the team to a good season. The Patriots finished 11-5 in 2008.

Oh, and the 26-year-old Cassel is five years younger than Brady.

Brady could come back and put up record-breaking numbers again and prove all of this was over-thinking.

I highly doubt it though.