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Recently signed defensive lineman Gerard Warren said the decision to sign with the Patriots came after advice from an unlikely source. Warren inked his deal with the Pats on April 24th, directly after the last round of the NFL Draft.
Last season, Warren played on the Oakland Raiders’ defensive line next to former Patriot Richard Seymour. It was advice from Seymour that Warren said tipped the balance in favor of the Patriots when deciding where to sign this off-season. However, the connection between the two D-linemen and the Patriots goes back much further.
In 2001 the Patriots were coming off a down year and Bill Belichick was entering his second season as the head coach. The team had the sixth overall pick in the draft. Many felt that the decision of who to pick came down to two defensive linemen.
You guessed it: the two linemen were none other than Gerard Warren and Richard Seymour.
Coming out of the University of Florida, a favorite college program of Belichick’s, Warren was considered one of the highest ranked defensive players in the draft, along with Seymour. Warren recently shared with the media that just a few days before the draft that year, then-Patriots assistant coach Romeo Crennel worked him out privately. He felt there was a strong chance the Patriots would have taken him with the sixth pick had he fallen that far.
However, it was not to be. The Cleveland Browns stepped in and took him with the third overall pick. The Patriots were “stuck” with Seymour at six, and the rest is history. Needless to say, the Patriots do not lament the fact that Warren was snatched up before their pick, though he has had a solid career.
Fast forward to this year’s draft. The Patriots did not take a defensive lineman until the seventh round. The defensive end position that Seymour left vacant following his trade to Oakland last preseason was still unoccupied, and the Patriots were looking for reinforcements.
Enter Gerard Warren.
The Patriots completed the deal with Warren the same day as the final draft round. Bill Belichick liked what he saw the past few years out of Warren, saying shortly after the signing, “He’s a very productive player through the course of his career, especially in recent years, a roughly 70 percent playtime player […] So he’ll add to that group and I think he gives us a talented player in there. I think he’ll be a good addition for our group.”
Seymour was traded to Oakland just before the start of the regular season last year in return for the Raiders’ 2011 first round draft pick. Following the trade, Seymour did not report to his new team for five days, leading many to believe he was unhappy with the situation. He did not publicly lash out at the Patriots, but said he was “blindsided” by the news and made other comments that seemed to indicate some resentment towards his former team.
That is why many were shocked when Warren said Seymour influenced his decision to sign with New England. It sounds like Seymour’s influence may have actually been during the season, and not direct advice that he should sign with them.
“I talked to Richard a little bit about it during the season last year, just about the experience in New England, what the expectations were inside the building, and that made the decision a lot easier in the offseason,” he said.
When asked what exactly Seymour referenced that made the decision easier, Warren said he passed on that “it’s all business — come in, play winning football, have fun, family environment.” Seymour knows all about the business aspect and the organization being a winning football environment, but the family environment comment is surprising. Perhaps Seymour was not as insulted by Belichick’s decision to trade him as many supposed.
It seems no matter what Warren and Seymour do, they cannot get away from one another. From being the two top linemen in 2001 that the Patriots were interested in to playing together in Oakland to Warren potentially taking his spot on the Pats’ D-line this year, the connection persists. Now if the Patriots can get anything close to Seymour’s production out of Warren this year, it will be a connection most Pats’ fans will gladly embrace.