Richard Seymour became a Patriot via the sixth overall pick in the 2001 draft, the second draft of Bill Belichick’s tenure in New England.
Seymour then became a cornerstone of a team that won three Super Bowls in four seasons.
Now, the Patriots have ended the relationship, dealing him for what likely will be the sixth overall pick or higher in 201
And so, for the second time in less than a week, Belichick has had to bid farewell to one of the men who helped the team develop the kind of sustained excellence that we hadn’t previously seen in the parity-driven NFL of the salary cap and free agency era.
“From nearly the day he arrived in 2001, Richard Seymour established himself as one of our premier players for nearly a decade,” Belichick said in comments circulated by the team. “His presence has been felt as a force on the field, a respected man off it and a multiyear champion.
“Any transaction we make is with the goal of what is best for our team and, as difficult as it is to part ways with a player of Richard’s stature, many factors were taken into account when we considered this trade,” Belichick said. “As an organization, we feel the trade with Oakland brings sufficient value and is in the long-term interest of the club. We are extremely grateful for the huge impact Richard’s elite level of performance had on our success and we wish him the very best during the rest of his career.”
That last phrase suggests that the Pats won’t be attempting to bring Seymour back next year, in the event he hits the open market in 2010.
But that’s one of the challenges of sustaining success. Teams need to know when to move on. Usually, the transition occurs not via a trade, but through a retirement or an outright release.
In Seymour’s case, the Pats weren’t able to pass up that first-round pick. And so they’ll be using it come April 2011 in the hopes of finding the next Richard Seymour or Tedy Bruschi.
Eventually, they’ll even have to be thinking about landing the next Tom Brady.