Another aspect of the Seymour trade


When the Richard Seymour trade went down in September, there was one clear plus, and one clear minus to the deal.

Plus: With the Patriots working to re-sign Vince Wilfork, and the big nose tackle destined for the franchise tag, the club got a 2011 first-round pick (and likely a high one after some sort of rookie salary reform) for a player it was unlikely to keep beyond 2009.

Minus: No matter how good the player taken with the ’11 pick is, the Patriots would have to go two years of Tom Brady’s prime without either player.

On Tuesday morning, Bill Belichick said this year’s draft is “overall better than what it’s been the last few years,” and one reason he gave was the number of underclassmen who declared.

So the question to ask here is this: Should the Patriots have gone after Oakland’s 2010 pick, rather than the ’11 pick?

Their own evaluation of this draft class (very deep in talent, which is something that was forecasted at the time of the Seymour deal) says they should have. Moreso, too, when you consider the ’11 class should be a bit depleted, particularly with the exodus of underclassmen this year and the possibility far fewer declare next year because of what could be a looming lockout.

The idea that the pick in ’11 is valuable because there might be more cost certainty (i.e. rookie salary scale) then is sound. But you can still poke holes in the decision.

First of all, the Raiders now hold the ninth pick — Still an expensive slot, but not an outrageous one. Last year, Packers DL B.J. Raji went in that spot, and got a five-year, $28.5 million deal, with $18 million guaranteed. The year before, Bengals linebacker Keith Rivers got a six-year, $23 million contract with $15.6 million guaranteed.

Good money, yes. Not eye-popping, though, and if you draft as intended that high, these deals wind up being positive ones for the teams, more than those in the top five.

Now, here’s the other potential issue: What if the Raiders aren’t that bad in 2010? Oakland was 5-11 last year, played most of its losses competitively, and beat the Bengals, Steelers and Broncos in the last seven weeks of the year.


They play in a division with teams in transition, and get the NFC West in 2010. And where they’ve got a huge problem at quarterback — literally, in JaMarcus Russell — it’s out there now that they’re sniffing around Donovan McNabb. I’m not saying that they’ll be any kind of contender, and they could still go 4-12, but there’s also a chance that they improve enough to land in the middle of the league, which puts that 2011 pick in the middle of the first round.

That’s where the Seymour deal wouldn’t be what it could’ve been for the Patriots. Not only will they have given up a year with the player they’d get with that pick, but they’ll also have taken a lower pick in a weaker draft.

Again, there’s a long way to go with all this stuff. But there’s little question that the Seymour trade was quite a gamble, even moreso than most believed it was at the time.

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