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Patriots deal Seymour to Oakland

09.06.09 at 10:56 am ET

The Patriots have just announced they have traded Pro Bowl defensive lineman Richard Seymour to Oakland for a 2011 first-round draft choice.

Selected by New England in the first round of the 2001 draft, Seymour became the center of the New England defensive line. The 29-year-old went to the Pro Bowl five times, and was a part of six division championships, four conference titles and three Super Bowl crowns.

In eight seasons with the Patriots, Seymour started 105 of 111 games, totaling 460 total tackles, including 256 solo stops with 39 sacks. His 39 sacks rank 10th in franchise history, tied with Houston Antwine (1961-71) for sixth among all-time defensive linemen. He has also recorded two interceptions and six fumble recoveries. In 2004, Seymour scored his first career touchdown on a fumble recovery that he returned 68 yards in a 31-17 win over Buffalo (10/3/04). The fumble return is the longest in franchise history.

“From nearly the day he arrived in 2001, Richard Seymour established himself as one of our premier players for nearly a decade,’€ said Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. ‘€œHis presence has been felt as a force on the field, a respected man off it and a multi-year 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 continued. ‘€œAs 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.”

Since this spring, the Patriots have made considerable changes, especially on the defensive side of the football. Seymour, along with veterans Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi and Rodney Harrison, have all been traded or retired. In all, six defensive starters from last season — Seymour, Bruschi, Vrabel and Harrison, as well as cornerbacks Ellis Hobbs and Deltha O’Neal — are no longer with the team.

Prior to the Sunday trade of Seymour, the defensive lineman was one of only a handful of players in the New England locker room remaining who could boast of having been a part of all three Super Bowl championships. Now, only running back Kevin Faulk, quarterback Tom Brady and offensive linemen Matt Light and Stephen Neal can say they were a part of all three title teams.

‘€œIt’€™s definitely tough to replace a Rodney Harrison — maybe a future Hall of Famer,’€ Seymour recently told WEEI when asked about the possible leadership void in the New England locker room. ‘€œMike Vrabel, he’€™s been one of the most consistent guys that we had here ever since I’€™ve been here. We both came in together in 2001. To lose guys like Mike and Rodney, that’€™s a tremendous loss for our team.

‘€œBut it creates another opportunity for some other guys to step up. Who are those guys are at this point? It’€™s still tough [to determine]. You really don’€™t know at this point, because guys are still working, guys are still making their own niche and finding their own way.’€

While there are questions marks about the state of leadership in the Patriots’ locker room going forward, the move does free up some room under the salary cap for a team that still has a number of expiring contracts after the 2009 season. Seymour was scheduled to make $3.685 million this season — the last year of his contract — and would have likely commanded a sizable payday in the future. Nose tackle Vince Wilfork, defensive lineman Jarvis Green, offensive lineman Logan Mankins and kicker Stephen Gostkowski are all up at the end of this season, and all could stand to benefit from the team’s decision to send Seymour packing.

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