What Just Happened in the AFC West?

Bret ArmstrongAnalyst ISeptember 7, 2009

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 03:  Richard Seymour #93 of the New England Patriots looks on before the game against the New York Giants on September 3, 2009 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

OK, so a lot of events occurred on Sunday in the AFC West. The first thing I want to touch on is the impending suspension of Shawne Merriman.

Merriman has allegedly been charged with assault and false imprisonment of reality T.V. star Tila Tequila. Now, mind you, Merriman is 6’4” and 265 pounds, while Tequila stands 5’0” and 98 pounds.

Merriman is likely to be suspended at least four games by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. I am pretty sure this violates the code of conduct policy for NFL players.

Why is it relevant to the Oakland Raiders? Because with this, in addition to the trade of a first-round draft pick in 2011 for New England Patriots defensive end Richard Seymour, the Raiders chances of opening the 2009 NFL season with a win just increased by 25 percent.

Seymour is a monster of a man, standing 6’6” tall, and tipping the scales at 310 pounds. Essentially, the Raiders traded 6’2”, 260-pound Derrick Burgess and a first-round pick in 2011 to the Patriots, for 6’6”, 310-pound Richard Seymour and a 2010 third-round pick.

Tell me, Raiders Nation, who do you think got the better end of this deal? Keep in mind when you answer that the New England Patriots don’t really care for a top-10 draft choice, even if this 2011 pick turns out to be that. Also keep in mind that Oakland doesn’t have the money needed to pay two more consecutive top-10 draft picks.

However, Oakland does have the money to pay a ninth-year defensive end, who is a proven commodity and has three Super Bowl Championships and Five AFC Pro Bowl selections under his belt. Seymour is scheduled to make $3.9 million this year, but I’m betting Al Davis will re-sign him for at least four years, and Richard will make closer to $5 million this year.

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I would say this makes up for the 2004 trade which sent Randy Moss to New England for a fourth-round pick. Seymour was drafted in the first round of the 2001 NFL draft while Burgess was a third-round selection in the same draft.

Seymour has played in 111 of 128 possible games during his time in the league, Burgess has played in 85 of 128. Seymour has 357 tackles in his NFL career, Burgess has 227.

Seymour, according to Raiders head coach Tom Cable, will be a defensive end who can play defensive tackle. In my opinion, this makes the Oakland Raiders defensive line very much like the defensive line of the New York Giants.

In one case, you may have LE Greg Ellis, LDT Tommy Kelly, RDT Gerard Warren, and RDE Richard Seymour. On another play, you could have LDE Greg Ellis, LDT Richard Seymour, RDT Gerard Warren, and RDE Tommy Kelly.

You could also see packages on third and short yardage with 300-pound Tommy Kelly, 310-pound Richard Seymour, 290-pound Desmond Bryant, and 330-pound Gerard Warren.

Just imagine if that was your permanent line for a second, and then think about have Greg Ellis and Trevor Scott for third down pass rushers. Who is going to run against that front? Nobody, that’s who.

This move not only frees up the Oakland linebackers to make plays, it also adds a whole different dimension to the entire defensive scheme. Dwaine Board has to feel like he just unwrapped the world’s best Christmas morning present.   

Now instead of bearing the weight of the question, “how do I stop the run?” the question becomes, “who are my starters?” which is a fair question to ask of a first-year Oakland coach.

Speaking of coaches, here is what Bill "Belicheat" had to say, “From nearly the day he arrived in 2001, Richard Seymour established himself as one of our premier players for nearly a decade. His presence has been felt as a force on the field, a respected man off it and a multiyear champion...We are extremely grateful for the huge impact Richard's elite level of performance had on our success and we wish him the very best during the rest of his career."

“I think a guy that has proven for, what, seven, eight years now that he’s a terrific run player, can hold the point and separate, get off blocks and make tackles in doing so. I think that gives us a real key piece,” said Oakland head coach Tom Cable.

“You can’t help but admire his game,” defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said. “There’s a player that myself, I kind of want to be like. It gives me a chance to see him up close and personal, see how he practices, how he prepares. You play with real good players, especially defensive tackles, defensive ends you take something from their game.”

“He brings a lot of versatility to the defense,” Kelly said. “I mean, if we can’t stop the run now, with that big (expletive) on the edge...it definitely upgrades us.”

Seymour instantly helps Oakland’s rushing defense that has not ranked higher than 22nd in the league since 2003. During that span, Oakland has given up 122 rushing touchdowns, while Seymour’s Patriots have given up only 56.

“We’re going to get it fixed right now and I think he’s the answer for it,” said Oakland middle linebacker Kirk Morrison.

Defensive tackle William Joseph was released to make room for Seymour.

I don’t care what anyone says about it—both of these major AFC West stories are like compound fractures in the San Diego Chargers' psyche.