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When the Patriots traded All-Pro defensive end Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders in September 2009, many assumed the Patriots would receive a top 10 2011 NFL Draft choice in return. Since 2002, the Raiders have drafted OUT of the top 10 just once, when Bill Callahan led them to Superbowl 37. In three of the years in that span, the Raiders drafted in the top 5 three times.
So, it was safe to assume this would be another bad year on the Bay, right? Not so fast.
In a year that is driven by parity among all 32 NFL teams, the Raiders have risen up as the front runners in the AFC West as the Raiders sit at 5-4 with a 3-0 division record. Part of the reason why the Raiders have had much success this season is due to the play of Seymour. In eight games this season, Seymour has almost matched his production from a year ago, as he’s on pace to reach a career high in sacks.
Meanwhile, with the departure of Seymour the Patriots have had to shuffle around pieces to fill the void left by the Gasden, Ga. native. In 2009, Jarvis Green and Mike Wright saw the brunt of the snaps, but as a whole the defense struggled. This year, Wright is the full-time starter and has surpassed expectations as he leads the team in sacks with 5.5. At some instances this year, Bill Belichick has even swung defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on the outside.
As things stand right now, it seems as if Al Davis got the Patriots number in this deal. However, it’s not the first time Belichick and Davis swapped pieces.
Nobody forgets one of the most lopsided trades in NFL History, where Davis and the Raiders traded troubling wide receiver Randy Moss in exchange for a fourth round pick that became John Bowie, who currently plays for the UFL’s Hartford Colonials.
Davis rebounded and traded slowly-regressing Derrick Burgess to the Patriots for a 2010 third and fifth round draft picks. Many expected Burgess to contribute my providing a stable passer rusher. Instead, Burgess never lived up to those expectations.
Then there was the Doug Gabriel saga. The Patriots traded a 2007 fifth round draft choice to the Raiders in exchange for Gabriel. After just a few games in New England, the Patriots released Gabriel, only for him to be re-signed to the Raiders one day after being cut. Although Gabriel’s production never warranted much, Davis still had Belichick’s number here.
Now, we have this deal. Seymour for the Raiders 2011 first round pick. We hit on a couple of points earlier, and if we were to evaluate this deal when it transpired, the Patriots would have looked like the clear winner. Now, a year later, it looks as if Davis got the upper hand once again. The Raiders have a realistic shot at winning the AFC West this season, so the Patriots are looking at a draft selection anywhere from 18-32.
To Belichick, a draft pick in that range may be a good thing. It would give the Patriots the ability to trade down and collect future draft picks, like Bill is accustomed to doing. However, many had hoped for a top 8 selection where someone like an A.J. Green or Mark Ingram had a realistic chance on joining a team in need of workhorse running back or big play receiver.
As of right now, we’ll give Davis the win. But, it’s early. For one, the Raiders could fall and the Patriots could still net a top 12 draft pick. Secondly, a couple years down the road we can look back to the trade and say, “Hey, we got ____ and look at what he’s done.”
Still, somewhere Davis is smiling over his teams recent success and the success that he’s had trading with Belichick after that embarrassment that was the Moss trade.