Belichick's Genius Strikes Again: The Patriots Trade Pro Bowl DE Seymour

Mitchell GoldenCorrespondent ISeptember 6, 2009

19 Jan 2002:  Richard Seymour #93 of the New England Patriots celebrates during the AFC playoff game against  the Oakland Raidersat Foxboro Stadium in Foxboro, Massachuesetts. The Patriots came from behind to win 16-13 in overtime. Digital Image Mandatory Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In a stunning move, the Patriots traded five time Pro Bowler Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders.

Many Patriots fans, who remember Seymour for his contributions in all three Super Bowl victories, are asking: WHY?!

While the answer takes some effort to uncover, the sports world shall soon realize that the move makes perfect sense. Although Richard Seymour was a key part of the Patriots defense, and still would be this year, his trade-away sets up the Patriots for many more years of success.

First, the reasons why Seymour was the player chosen for the trade:

  • The fearsome defensive end was in the final year of a contract with a 3.685 million dollar cap hit. Now, the Patriots have more space under the salary cap.
  • This year, the Patriots have effectively switched their base defensive package to a 4-3 formation. Seymour's value was primarily in the 3-4, where he was effective as a run container even more than a pass rusher. In a 4-3, his talents, although still incredible, are not as well matched.
  • Richard Seymour was injury prone. He played many games with significant injuries, and only played 9 games in 2007.

The trade benefits the Pats because they have several big name players with soon-to-be expiring contracts. Vince Wilfork, who is considerably more important than Seymour, especially if the Patriots ever desire to return to the 3-4 in coming years, is in the last year of his contract. Tom Brady's contract expires after next season, and may require some restructuring to avoid a $10 million dollar cap hit.

Also, three of the Patriots' vaunted O-line are in the last year of their contracts: Logan Mankins, Stephen Neal, and Ryan O'Callaghan. Removing Seymour from the situation eases the financial stress.

An interesting aspect of the trade is that the Patriots demanded a 2011 pick, and not a 2010 pick. While this decision seems arbitrary, there is in fact more reason behind the move.

2011 is rumored to be the first year that the NFL has a rookie salary cap. The Patriots have generally stayed away from the beginning of the first round because of the high salaries demanded by unproven rookies.

If rookie salaries are limited in 2011, the Patriots will own the 2011 draft. With two first round picks in 2011, one of which comes from the pathetic Raiders franchise, the Patriots place themselves in an incredible position to gain talent, whether by picking in the first round, or trading for a wealth of picks from later rounds. And as most sports analysts will recognize, the Patriots are extremely talented in handling the draft.

With the depth of their defensive line, and the upcoming financial uncertainties, the Patriots made a smart move in parting with the Pro Bowl Lineman Seymour. Like Lawyer Milloy and Ty Law before him, he has been traded while he still held value, and the Patriots will surely capitalize on their gains.