By: Bob George/BosSports.net
April 09, 2006

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Next in a series of positional analysis for the 2005 New England Patriots. Today: defensive line.

In theory, David Givens, Damien Woody, Ted Washington, Willie McGinest and Ty Law all could have been resigned.

Adam Vinatieri, on the other hand, could not.

Richard Seymour, the biggest name of them all to hit the open market next year, will join Vinatieri in his company of big names who won't be back because they simply won't want to come back. There are two major reasons why Seymour will not be a Patriot beyond 2006. The first one really doesn't matter, but it would steer him to another team anyway if the second reason did not exist.

Seymour's main goal in life, especially with three Super Bowl rings in his possession, will be to become the highest paid defensive end in the NFL. He will not take a hometown discount to stay with the Patriots. He instead will think more about his family, his future, and his long-term financial security. He will do so because the challenge of winning more Super Bowls, while a nice thought, will become secondary to financial reasons. In his short career, he already has won three Super Bowls, and number four can merely wait.

The Patriots, meanwhile, won't make Seymour, or anyone, the highest paid player in his position in the NFL. If they didn't do so with Vinatieri or Tom Brady, they certainly won't do it with Seymour. Brady is the rare athlete who was willing to accept a long-term deal which will both satisfy his financial pings as well as allow his team to remain a Super Bowl contender. Vinatieri opted for the bigger bucks in Indianapolis, and is the highest paid kicker in the game. Seymour will do the same.

Of course, Brady accepted the deal because he badly wanted to remain a Patriot and play for Bill Belichick. Vinatieri, on the other hand, bolted not only for the big bucks, but to get back at the team which franchise tagged him three times during his ten-year stay in Foxborough. This leads to the second reason why Seymour won't stay, even if the Patriots did indeed pony up and give Seymour the contract he wants.

Both Vinatieri and Seymour were scorned by the Patriots, in different ways. Vinatieri was furious that the Patriots kept tagging him instead of trying to work out a long-term deal with the club. Seymour, on the other hand, has a personal vendetta with Belichick which goes back to 2003, and which likely isn't going away any time soon.

In December of 2003, Seymour lost his grandfather. Belichick gave Seymour permission to attend the funeral. But for the Jacksonville game that weekend at snowy Foxborough, Belichick benched Seymour for the first quarter. Belichick has a firm team policy which states that anyone who does not practice with the team that week doesn't start that week. Seymour was furious for not being allowed to start, based upon reports coming out of Foxborough that week.

Seymour would get some revenge for this when he held out at the beginning of the 2005 season and demanded an upgrade for the final two years of his original rookie deal. He got it, but it was unusual in that he was the only player in the Belichick Era to ever take such a stand and make such a demand. Seymour is now third on the club in terms of largest hit against the 2006 salary cap at $4.4 million, about a million less than Rosevelt Colvin and eight and a half million less than Brady.

One might think that Seymour might soften his anger for Belichick with the passing of the coach's father Steve last fall. But even if this were to cause Seymour to reflect on how the coach handled his own father's death, then refer back to the first reason as to why Seymour won't be back.

There are those who believe that Seymour will hold out again going into the 2006 training camp. If the Patriots are foolhardy enough to try and slap the franchise tag on Seymour, sit back and watch the fun. Seymour would play the bare minimum to get his one year of NFL service in, and then tell Belichick to kiss off, and perhaps in a more graphic way than can be mentioned in this space.

A lesser reason for Seymour wanting to leave is a report which said Seymour desires to wind up with a team from the deep south, with Atlanta at the top of the list. This reason would be more like icing on the cake, as Seymour would probably take the best deal offered him. But it is worth keeping in the back of your mind.

It's a shame that things will have to come to this. The visions of an all-first round draft pick defensive line for many years to come was incredibly delicious. Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork could very well have become the best 3-4 defensive line in league history, or at least one of the best. The most legendary lines in history are mostly in base 4-3s (Fearsome Foursome, Steel Curtain, Doomsday Defense, Purple People Eaters, New York Sack Exchange, Buddy Ryan's 46, just to name a few). It is even more amazing that, given the elite company Seymour is in right now, he is still thought of as the premier defensive lineman in the game right now.

Whoops. Defensive end. It matters greatly to number 93. Means more money. Sorry, Richard. Refer back to reason number one for further explanation.

So, who will replace Seymour? It just so happens that number four on the salary cap hit list is Jarvis Green. Green subbed for Seymour in the 2003 postseason and played incredibly well (if you don't believe us, go ask Peyton Manning). Green would be the first choice to step in and replace Big Sey.

As all three linemen were former first round draft picks, it is not stretching it to say that Belichick may simply try to pluck another prime stud from either the 2006 or the 2007 draft. Belichick has a history of developing top defensive linemen, so he will simply pay someone less money to play just well enough to win the Patriots a couple more Super Bowls. At least that's what the thinking will be.

After Green, there isn't much depth. Marquise Hill is still a work in progress, as is Dan Klecko. Klecko may ultimately find a niche as a linebacker, but he also could wind up as fullback some day. Rodney Bailey wound up back home in Pittsburgh.

Seymour will approach 2006 with one thing in mind: Don't screw up his impending free agency. It will seem like he'll be like Nomar Garciaparra in 2004, and that might just be right on the button.

Either Foxborough's not Seymour's kind of town, or Belichick's not his kind of coach. Or both.

Next installment: linebackers.


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