In a shocking move, the Patriots have traded five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour to the Raiders today, the team confirmed. The Patriots will receive a 2011 first-round draft choice.
Seymour, 29, has been an integral part of the Patriots’ three Super Bowl teams. He was entering the last year of his contract, and was due to make $3.685 million. That money now comes off the Patriots’ salary cap.
With several key players with contracts set to expire after the season, the Patriots must have felt that re-signing Seymour wasn’t likely, so they decided to get what they deemed fair value now.
In acquiring a first-round draft choice in 2011, the Patriots appear to have the NFL’s uncertain labor forecast in mind. That could be the first year with a rookie cap. The economics of top first-round draft choices currently make those choices undesirable, but with a cap, the value of those picks could skyrocket.
The flip side of the strategy, however, is that there is no guarantee of a rookie cap. Also, if owners and players can’t agree on a new collective bargaining agreement, there is no guarantee that there will be football in 2011 -- although there will be a draft regardless. Furthermore, while the Raiders have struggled in recent years, there is no certainty the pick will be in the top half of the round.
The Patriots are deep along the defensive line, with starters Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork returning. Jarvis Green (8th year), Mike Wright (5th year), Ron Brace (second-round draft choice) and Myron Pryor (sixth-round draft choice) round out the depth chart.
Wilfork's contract is due to expire after this season. The Seymour trade could spark a resolution with his situation.
More on this major move to come.