With less than a week before the 2009 season opener, the Oakland Raiders gave the New England Patriots a 2011 first round draft pick in exchange for superstar defensive end Richard Seymour. Seymour was expected to be the answer to the Raiders run defense (which has been at or near the bottom of the NFL since 2003) and he was expected to give the Raiders a premier pass-rusher. Seymour made an instant impact on Monday Night Football when he sacked Phillip Rivers twice in the season opener.
Then Seymour cooled off, a lot! He only got 2 more sacks all season, both against the Eagles, and finished the season with 47 tackles, 30 solo. The Raiders team leaders in sacks were Greg Ellis and Trevor Scott (7). Not only did Seymour not get after the quarterback, the Raiders continued to struggle against the run. They allowed 155.5 rushing yards per game, 29th in the NFL. In other categories: they allowed 23.7 points per game (23rd in the NFL) , 361.9 total yards (26th in the NFL) and 206.4 passing yards (7th in the NFL). Passing is very good because teams are able to run over the Raiders and have no need to pass.
Now the Raiders have a problem. Richard Seymour is just one of several free-agents the Raiders have. Kirk Morrison (MLB), Thomas Howard (OLB), Sebastian Janikowski (K), Bruce Gradkowski (QB) and Charlie Frye (QB). Those are just a few of the free-agents the Raiders have. SFGate.com is reporting that the Raiders have been in contact with Sebastian Janikowski’s agent about a long-term deal. No word on the progress of those talks yet. The Raiders must bring back Bruce Gradkowski after he showed promise in victories over Cincinatti and Pittsburgh. Morrison and Howard both deserve lucrative contracts. They have been 2 of the Raiders 3 best defensive players in recent years, with Namdi Asomugha. How can people explore Asomugha’s trade value and then say Seymour must be re-signed or franchised. Namdi has produced every Sunday, Seymour lacked consistency.
So if the Raiders are un-able to get contracts done with Morrison, Howard, Janikowski and Gradkowski…I say franchise one of those guys. Janikowski would only be $2.8 M. Seymour would be $12.3 million. Is $12.3 million something we should pay somebody who has performed below our expectations. He can’t be blamed for the whole defense, but the defense showed no major improvement after he was acquired. And Seymour is getting old, he turned 30 in December. Morrison and Howard are in their prime, and Morrison has been a team-leader in tackles. Gradkowski deserves to start at QB, or at least a chance in training camp against Russell. Bruce is only 27. He can be a team-leader, if not the franchise player, for the next several years.
If Seymour agrees to a long-term contract, I welcome him back to Oakland. But if he is here under the franchise tag, he will earn too much money without having a long-term commitment to this team. If the Raiders allow any of the previously listed free-agents to leave Oakland while they franchise Seymour…it will be a bad move. So what if Seymour cost us a first round pick, he doesn’t have to cost us $12.3 million for an inconsistent season and is there a big difference between Seymour leaving after 1 season and leaving after 2 seasons? The time frame for teams to use the franchise tag is Februray 11-25. Last year the Raiders didn’t need it, this year could be a different ball game with more than just 2 big names out of contract.