When the New England Patriots sent defensive lineman Richard Seymour to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for Oakland’s 2011 first-round draft pick, it was a move that prompted a great deal of discussion around the league.
But Patriots coach Bill Belichick says in a wide-ranging interview with Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports that it was actually quite simple: The Patriots just view every potential move as a cost-benefit analysis, and in the case of that trade, the benefit of a 2011 first-round pick is greater than the cost of Richard Seymour.
“We gave up a significant player and we gained a significant asset,” Belichick told Cole. “There’s a balance of this year and years in the future. Do we consider that? Yes, but in the end you look at the level of compensation and you do it. Had it been for another level of compensation, would we do it? Maybe not. I don’t know. There’s a point where you say yes and a point where you say no and there’s a real fine line in the middle where it really depends on how bad you want to make the trade. It’s like anything else, if you really want to do it, you might take less. If you don’t, it probably would take more.”
Belichick said it was the Raiders who brought up the possibility of acquiring Seymour, and that it took 24 to 48 hours of discussions to get the deal done.
Belichick also said that “probably everybody is available at the right price,” but when Cole pressed him about whether he’d really trade Tom Brady, Belichick acknowledged that he’s building a team around a certain core group of players — and he wouldn’t trade those guys. As an example of a player he wouldn’t trade, Belichick named linebacker Jerod Mayo, last year’s first-round draft pick.
“Now, is Jerod Mayo available? No, not really,” Belichick said. “But there are certain players who are young that have a certain number of years left on their contract that you want on your team, so you’re really not going to trade them. Those guys are realistically not available, no. But is everybody else available for a certain price on every team? I would say, for the most part, they probably are. Who’s willing to give that? What you want and what someone else is willing to give, that’s usually very different. In this case, it worked.”
In reality, we won’t know if it worked for years, until we’ve seen how Seymour’s tenure in Oakland plays out, and until we’ve seen what the Patriots do with the Raiders’ pick. But for now, Belichick seems confident that his cost-benefit analysis was correct. Given his track record, he’s probably right.