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Ask PFW: See ya Seymour

I was kind of shocked that the Pats traded Richard Seymour at first. But then I figured that he will be 30 and he would want a lot of money after this year and they have a few guys to sign with not a lot of room under the cap. But I don't understand the draft pick. A first round in 2011 not 2010? Is that because Bill doesn't think too highly of next year's draft class? Or is it just they way the deal went down?
Matt Lucia

I don't think waiting until 2011 has anything to do with Belichick's thoughts on next year's draft class. Waiting a year will actually be more beneficial – especially if the new collective bargaining agreement is in place by then. The owners and players are going to start negotiating toward a new CBA and potentially the first year of the new agreement would be 2011. If that's the case, there's a good chance one of the new terms of the deal would be some sort of rookie salary scale. That's an issue that's important to the owners right now and they'll work hard to get that changed. That way, players selected at the top of the draft won't be entitled to upward of $30 million in guarantees before they play a down of NFL football. So there's a potential for a 2011 first-round pick to be extremely valuable – more so than one in 2010.
Paul Perillo

After seeing Seymour get traded it's hard to go by the motto "In Bill we trust." I'm just baffled. Seymour just came off an 8-sack year, and is heading into a contract year, meaning his production, especially as a strong stable next to boatloads of young talent, could have been huge. So what if we were going to run a 4-3? He was drafted as a 4-3 DT and was a Pro Bowler at the position. How can you trade away one of the few players who has established himself on this defense if you're trying to compete for a Super Bowl?Sam Frankel

I, too, was quite surprised by the trade and feel it's difficult to make an argument that the defense is better today than it was before the deal was made. I also believed Seymour was primed for a big year heading into a contract season. But at the same time I feel the Patriots viewed him as a commodity that they were about to lose. It would have been very difficult to re-sign him next offseason when he would be 30 and seeking one more lucrative deal. With that in mind Belichick decided to let him go now and get some real value in return. The Patriots have some depth along the defensive line and while they don't have another player like Seymour they do have some quality guys to plug in while the rookies – Ron Brace and Myron Pryor – get up to speed.
Paul Perillo

Now with the Patriots without there All-Pro defensive end, who do they expect to start opposite Ty Warren? Does this mean that Vince Wilfork will get extended? I love this website, best in the business.
Raciel Cruz

I guess it depends on which alignment Belichick decides to use on defense. If he opens with a 3-4, then I'd expect to see either Mike Wright (early downs) or Jarvis Green (passing situations) replace Seymour. If they go with a 4-3, then you might see Ron Brace inside next to Vince Wilfork with Warren outside and Wright and Green on the other side. The Patriots have also featured some "small" 4-3 looks with Derrick Burgess and/or Tully Banta-Cain lined up at end. There really isn't one solution to this problem and the Patriots will likely look to several players to fill Seymour's role. And there also won't be too many cases where the defense is lined up in its base look, whether it's 4-3 or 3-4. Based on what we saw this summer, there will be a lot of mixing and matching as the team goes with some nickel and dime looks in sub packages.

As for Wilfork's extension, I think that would be the plan. The Patriots saved a little money by dealing Seymour and that could help get Wilfork extended. But Wilfork also knows the team just dealt one of its best defensive linemen and now might feel his bargaining position has improved. So if he feels his price tag has just gone up, re-signing him may not be quite so easy. That's why it's difficult to predict these negotiations – just when you think all signs are pointing toward one thing, the situation can change dramatically.
Paul Perillo

Richard Seymour, thank you for your great contributions to this team. I'm still shocked that you've been traded, especially to a team that defines the word awful. You truly are the Tom Brady of the defense; a great person off the field, and a great player on it. Do you think Big Sey will come back to the Patriots after his contract runs out?
Andre N.

Belichick has always taught us to never say never, but I would doubt we'd see Seymour return next year. I have to think the team traded him in large part because they felt it would be difficult to re-sign him and opted to get something in return. If that's true, it would be hard to imagine things changing that much in a year. Of course, life in Oakland could scare anyone into taking less money to come back, but I don't Seymour settling for too much less and he'll certainly have some options next offseason.
Paul Perillo

New England just traded Richard Seymour to Oakland for a first-round draft pick in 2011. "Ask PFW" must be getting heaps of messages over this. Do you see any possible way Seymour's departure improves the defense? Is Belichick counting too much on offensive firepower? The Seymour trade seems like a big gamble, which may pay off in the long run, at the cost of a weaker front in the 2009 season.
Ryan Pasquini

I've pretty much given my feelings on the trade already … great move for the long term, so-so for the immediate future of the club. I can't see a scenario in which the defense improves because Seymour isn't here. If the unit gets better with the players that are here, then I could only imagine how much more effective it could have been with Seymour as part of the equation. Belichick doesn't consciously think about relying on offensive firepower over building a defense, but that was probably the reality of the situation with or without Seymour in the fold. The Patriots will likely need another big year out of the offense to have another Super Bowl run, and the good news is it appears as if the pieces are in place for that to happen.
Paul Perillo

This is my first time inquiring you guys. I would always see what you had to say but never asked a question however when I heard the news on Seymour I had to ask, what are they doing? Is it possible that they are not only freeing up cap space for the free agents that will soon be on the team but also to pick up Julius Peppers. Also depending on where that first-round pick is could we see a repeat of this past draft where they use that first round pick to gain more picks and end up with a multitude of second rounders?Jonathan Trujillo

Thanks for taking the time to join our discussion … you get the rookie treatment here so don't worry about it. I don't believe they are interested in Peppers at this point but I also would not have believed they were going to trade Seymour so take that with a grain of salt. Peppers has an enormous cap number ($16-plus million) and the Pats would need to be able to absorb that at least for a day when if they acquired him. There would be some guys let to go make room, and during the season that wouldn't seem to make much sense. Peppers is an intriguing talent but not worth that kind of aggravation if you ask me – which you did since this is "Ask PFW" after all. Even if the Patriots could work out a long-term extension that would be more cap friendly, Peppers is still a long shot at best. As for the draft pick trade, that could very well be the case. Belichick loves to move his picks and stockpiling second rounders is something he's had success with. I'd be surprised to see him move this one, however, since the Raiders figure to remain near the bottom of the league and therefore the pick could be in the top five. Belichick will find value in picking that high, especially if the new CBA is in place and there's a rookie wage scale included.
Paul Perillo

I know Tom Brady's healthy and is going to have another great season. But who do you think will be the No. QB now that O'Connell is gone?Ian M.

Obviously the team currently has just rookie Brian Hoyer behind Brady, but I would be surprised to see that remain the case for very long. Hoyer has been a nice story in camp but I don't think he's ready to step on the field as the top backup should anything happen to Brady. Belichick is likely looking into some veteran possibilities (A.J. Feeley, Jeff Garcia) and I'd be surprised if he didn't find one before too long. I like the idea of Garcia, who is a proven commodity who has succeeded off the bench in the past and has shown an ability to complete a variety of timing passes while working in the West Coast offense. That's not the same system the Patriots run, but as a veteran I would think Garcia would be able to pick things up before too long.
Paul Perillo

Dear PFW, I was hoping you guys could shed a little light on Shawn Crable. Pardon my ignorance, but he seems to be the mystery player on the team. I've never actually seen him play. I've read that he is very talented but I guess we won't be seeing him this year either. When he is healthy, what makes him stand out as a LB? Did he have a lot of injury problems in college? Any thoughts on his future with the team?Boris Alexandrov

No need to defend yourself here, Boris, we all feel the same way. Crable has not seen the field very often during his two years here. He took part in camp last year as a rookie and saw some time in the preseason, but then never played in a regular-season game before landing on IR. This summer, we didn't get to see him at all. He barely practiced and played exactly one play during the preseason. He had a groin problem that hampered him all summer and we simply haven't been able to watch him develop. I honestly can't say anything I've seen from him stands out, mainly because I just haven't seen enough of him to make a determination. Based on his two years on IR, I wouldn't think his future is particularly bright here in New England, but maybe his problems have been strictly injury related and we'll see more out of him when healthy.
Paul Perillo

Is it just me or have the Pats just plain given away about a half-dozen draft picks this year for players they have ended up releasing? Is this a sign of things to come now that Pioli is gone? I'm a little nervous to see a sudden rash of moves that showcase poor talent evaluation at the management level, which has long been a strength in the organization relative to other teams. Did the new GM ever pass through the Lions organization by any chance?
Nate Stafford

Since the new GM is the same as the old GM – Bill Belichick – then I'd say no to the last point. There have been a couple of trades for draft picks that haven't worked out. Alex Smith and Greg Lewis cost them picks and both are gone. Derrick Burgess cost them two picks and thus far hasn't stood out, but the season hasn't even started yet and there's plenty of time for him to contribute. Even if all three of those players wind up contributing nothing this season, there were only four draft picks lost – not a half dozen – and it's unlikely that Burgess will not help at least marginally. The Patriots have made some sketchy player-for-picks deals in the past too – Doug Gabriel, Duane Starks – so it's not like they've always struck gold when wheeling and dealing, whether Pioli was here or not. But it's also important to remember a couple of other player trades that worked out – Randy Moss for a fourth rounder, Wes Welker for second and seventh rounders, Corey Dillon for a second rounder – so there have been plenty of good and bad.
Paul Perillo

So many players seem to leave here when they are still so valuable: Ty Law, Deion Branch, Asante Samuel, Mike Vrabel, Seymour and others. What is the good of building up a player just to trade him when he has finally earned his payday? I sometimes wonder how many more Super Bowls we would have had this decade if we'd kept our guys instead of trading them away and relying on the Reche Caldwells and Ellis Hobbses of the world. Your opinion: are the Pats just uncanny when it comes to detecting when a player has peaked, or are we kind of a cheap team?
Bill S.

Unlike many Patriots fans who refuse to admit that some players have been able to continue to play well after leaving here, I agree to an extent. I'm not sure how many of these guys would have made a difference between winning a Super Bowl, but I understand your point. The Patriots regard players in terms of value and once they feel the value is gone Belichick generally pulls the plug and moves on. He often says it's better to let a guy go a year too early rather than a year too late. So Law, for example, may have been able to help in 2005 when he went to the Jets and picked off 10 passes, but in the long run he wasn't going to be a huge part of the team's success any longer. Same with Vrabel. But Branch certainly could have helped the 2006 team, and in fact Belichick wanted him to be a part of it but contract issues stepped in. Again, the Patriots didn't see the value in Branch that Seattle did. He's still a very good player, just not worth the contract he wanted and got from the Seahawks. These are complicated matters and impossible to answer definitively because there's no way to know for sure, for example, whether Branch's presence on the 2006 team may have been worth a win and therefore allowed the Patriots to host Indy in the AFC title game and more than likely advance to the Super Bowl. My guess is yes, but I can't say that with any degree of certainty. Just like no one can say he wouldn't have helped either. I don't think any of this has anything to do with being cheap in any way. The Patriots model for success was established under Belichick and it's been almost without peer over the last decade.
Paul Perillo

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