Curran: In retrospect, Pats blew call on Seymour

Curran: In retrospect, Pats blew call on Seymour
May 13, 2011, 3:18 pm
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By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com
Raiders coach Hue Jackson recently took a tiny victory lap over the Richard Seymour deal. During a radio interview, Jackson pooh-poohed the fact Oakland didn't have a first-round pick in 2011 by saying, "A lot of people say we didnt have a first-round draft pick, but we really felt like we did because obviously we got to retain the services of Richard Seymour, who we traded for and we felt we had the best first round draft pick in the draft. I feel very good about him and where hes headed."On September 6, 2009, the Patriots shipped Seymour to Oakland for the Raiders 2011 first-round pick. Since then, the Raiders have gotten two years of excellent production from Seymour. The Patriots now have Nate Solder. So the Raiders feel good about the deal and they should. They'veimproved from being the abject mess they were at the start of 2010 when Seymour was shipped out there. They were an upward-trending 5-11 in 2010 then went 8-8 in 2011, crushing the hopes Patriots loyalists harbored of New England getting a top-five pick for Seymour. Seymour's played at a Pro Bowl level for Oakland. Additionally, his professionalism has been credited with lifting the standards of his teammates. And for two years, the Patriots have missed the hell out of him. Let's get the qualifiers out of the way right now - the Patriots' hands were restrained financially because Seymour and Vince Wilfork both had contracts expiring after the 2010 season. They weren't willing to do massive deals for both players and could only slap the franchise tag on one of them after 2010 to restrict his movement. So they chose to move Seymour rather than risk getting nothing for him afterhe left in free agency. They've been able to re-signWilfork and TomBrady since Seymour left.And now they have Solder to take over for Matt Light and be a competent NFL tackle until about 2021 (whoa!). Seymour's performance level in Oakland exceeds what he didfor the Patriots in his final years here. Achange of venuemay have jump-started his career and rekindled his love for the game because, as dominant as he is, he wasn't dominating for the Patriots with consistency. The business side of football in New England wore him down. He just didn't understand why it had to be so complicated, why guys had to - as he believed - crawl to get paid. He made that clear to me many times. He didn't like the way he was treated. He didn't like the way teammates were treated. So, yes, it may have been a necessary divorce. And yes,the Patriots did get compensation for him. And that first-round compensation has been, as an astute poster on Patsfans.com noted, like the Richard Seymour Annuitythat gives the Patriots huge latitude to make deals going forward. And the Patriots have been able to sign players while Seymour's now working under a new two-year deal worth 30 million (22 million guaranteed) after making 12.4 million last year. But the football thing? Simply put, the Patriots have been missing what the Raiders have been enjoying. The lack of consistent pressure generated by the Patriots defensive front, the need to move Wilfork all over the defensive line including the spot formerly occupied by Seymour, the absurd third-down conversion rates, the reliance on a fleet of young players drafted late to man the defensive line, it all makes you wonder how much better the Patriots would have been if they just dug deep and kept "Big Sey 93". Nate Solder may end up being a wonderful left tackle. But the two-season gap between when he'll likely start contributing and the exportation of Seymour is never going to be erased. Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran