Lost in the seismic reaction to the blockbuster trade of Richard Seymour are the parameters of the trade itself.
Looking at the big picture: while it was shocking that it did happen, it was not entirely implausible. Several major contracts on the Patriots team are expiring after this season, and it would be a far reach for the Patriots to be able to resign both Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour. Don't forget they have to also take care of Tom Brady.
But let's look at the trade itself, which I personally find more shocking.
Seymour is in the last year of his contract, and considering that he was not likely to resign with New England again, I had assumed that he would walk away as a free agent and New England would receive draft compensation. Trading a player on the last year of his contract is difficult to do because of the inherent risk of having the player for only one year, if he chooses not to resign with the organization he is traded to.
Instead, the Patriots get a first-round pick for 2011. A potentially top ten, or even top five, pick. This is stunning.
The likelihood that Seymour signs an extended contract with the Raiders is very slim; he would most likely want to go to a contender or a marquee team, such as Dallas. He is one of the best, if not the best 3-4 defensive end.
As a brief aside: why 2011, and not 2010? Simply this: the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) expires prior to the 2010 season, during which [if it does proceed] there will be no salary cap.
However, here's what makes this exciting: The word is that the new CPA (if it is hammered out) may include a rookie cap, which restores value to the top 10 pick. Of course, this is a huge gamble on Belichick's part, assuming there is such a clause and assuming it is installed in time for the 2011 season. But if it happens, it will be a huge steal; and once again the Patriots will have an "unfair" advantage.
Let's review their lopsided relationship:
2005: Patriots traded sixth-round pick in exchange for seventh-round pick, and pick Matt Cassel.
2006: Patriots traded fifth-round pick for WR Doug Gabriel. This didn't work out, Pats lose a fifth-round pick.
2007: Patriots received WR Randy Moss in exchange for fourth-round pick.
2009: Patriots received DE Derrick Burgess in exchange for 2010 third-round and fifth-round pick.
2010: Patriots trade DE Richard Seymour, in exchange for 2011 first-round pick.
If this systematic abuse continues, do not be surprised if the league takes out a third-party restraining order against Bill Belichick, forbidding him from conducting any more business with the Oakland Raiders.
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out, if Oakland fails to sign Seymour to an extended contract, it is time for the league to step in and take control of the team.
The argument for putting the Raiders into receivership is pretty solid by now, and Belichick is not helping matters with his ruthless, systematic exploitation of that organization.
If he keeps up, he may very well receive a registered letter from the league!