According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the New England Patriots have traded defensive end Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round pick in the 2011 draft.
The move suggests that the Patriots realize they wouldn’t have been able to keep Seymour and nose tackle Vince Wilfork beyond 2009, whose contracts expire after the coming season.
And the decision to move Seymour could mean that the Pats are willing to pay Wilfork whatever he has requested in previous negotiations.
But there’s a chance Wilfork’s price tag just went north, because now the Patriots have a more compelling reason to keep Wilfork.
Meanwhile, Seymour’s role in the Raiders’ 4-3 defense is unclear. He likely will play defensive tackle. Also, the Raiders might decide to employ a 3-4 on a change-of-pace basis, especially with Greg Ellis on the team, too.
There’s also a chance that Seymour’s stay in Oakland will be a short one. He has been shipped from one of the league’s premier franchises to the place that literally and figuratively has become the NFL’s Black Hole.
Frankly, if the Raiders gave up a first-round pick in 2011 for Seymour without signing him to an extension, then it really is time for the league to step in and take over the team.
Given that there’s no reason to think the Raiders will improve their fortunes in the next two seasons, that first-round selection could be a very high one. And the Pats typically don’t like to spend the kind of money that goes along with signing a top-five pick.
That said, there might be a true rookie wage scale by 2011, which would make it cheaper and easier to sign one of the top incoming players.
Regardless, it’s a shocking move, one that no one saw coming.
But that’s fitting, since it’s been a shocking year in the NFL.
And we love every minute of it.
UPDATE: Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe reports that the Patriots have confirmed the trade.