One of the more interesting scenes in the NFL Network’s special “Bill Belichick: A Football Life” occurs during the Patriots’ 2009 training camp, when team owner Robert Kraft spoke with then Patriots defensive tackle Richard Seymour and asked Seymour to compare that year’s group to the best teams in the franchise’s history. The light bulb that went off in the heads of Patriots fans watching the show was that the team was just about to trade Seymour, weeks later, to the Oakland Raiders. Fans watching the NFL Network show were left wanting more inside information on exactly how the Seymour deal went down.
Those fans will get plenty of Seymour talk this week.
Seymour won three Super Bowls in his eight seasons in New England, and his trade to the Raiders is one of the most-discussed deals the team has made. It’s too early to judge the Patriots’ acquisition in that deal — 2011 first-round draft pick Nate Solder — but it’s not premature to say that Seymour remains an elite defensive talent in this league.
“I tell people all the time he was our first-round draft pick last year,” Raiders coach Hue Jackson said today on a conference call with the New England media. “I think he is one of the best defensive tackles ever. This guy is as good as there is in football. I’m just so excited he’s here playing for us and we don’t have to play against him.”
The Patriots, of course, do have to play against their former teammate on Sunday. Seymour has 12 sacks over the past two seasons for the Raiders. The six-time Pro Bowler had a career-high eight sacks in 2008, his final year in New England.
Richard’s just one of those guys who has multiple moves,” said Patriots tackle Matt Light. “He plays with a lot of strength. He’s very disruptive. When you see those guys on this team, they’re penetrating the gaps. That’s what he does.
“Richard’s always been the guy who’s playing to the whistle and real physical in everything that he does. There’s a lot of veteran leadership to that group. He’s a smart player, and I’m sure he’s one of the guys that keeps everybody in line.”
It’s worth noting that the Patriots had 30 sacks as a team in 2008 with Seymour and 36 the following season, one in which the team’s lack of a pass rush was consistently criticized after Seymour’s departure.