By: Bob George/BosSports.net
September 06, 2009

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The David Terrell Fan Club ceased and desisted a long time ago, and good riddance to them.

Terrell, if you might recall, was the popular choice by the fans and the media for the Patriots to take with the sixth overall draft pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. The former Michigan wide receiver was seen as a huge offensive weapon for quarterback Drew Bledsoe, a potential game-breaker that Terry Glenn never panned out to be. Terrell was projected as a top fifteen pick at worst and a top ten pick at best.

Some thought that Terrell might even be a top five pick. But Terrell fell to the Patriots at six, as Virginia Tech's Michael Vick went first to Atlanta, Leonard Davis of Texas went to Arizona, Gerard Warren of Florida went to Cleveland, Justin Smith of Missouri went to Cincinnati, and LaDainian Tomlinson of Texas Christian went to San Diego. Terrell was there, ready to be taken, and Patriot Nation was poised as Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli were about to land a franchise wide receiver.

Instead, the Patriots shocked everyone by taking undersized defensive end Richard Seymour of Georgia. Seymour was a pass rushing end for the Bulldogs, but the Patriots were projecting him as a defensive tackle in their 4-3 base defense, which was the base they ran at the time, and appearing to be converting to today. At 310 pounds, he had a good weight for an end, but for a tackle, he was projected as a bit light for the position.

Patriot Nation was aghast, and the media was only slightly less than that. Most observers thought that Belichick and Pioli had totally blown the pick. Ron Borges of the Herald wrote what became an adversely iconic opinion of that draft day in general and the Seymour pick in particular when he wrote this for the Globe: "On a day when they could have had impact players David Terrell or Koren Robinson, they took Georgia defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who had one sack last season in the pass-happy SEC and is too tall to play tackle at 6-6 and too slow to play defensive end. This genius move was followed by trading out of the spot where they could have gotten the last in Robert Ferguson and settled tackle Matt Light, who will not help any time soon." Terrell would go two picks later at eight to Chicago, while Robinson went to Seattle with the next pick. Ferguson would to go Green Bay in the second round.

So, who was the real genius?

Terrell was a complete and total bust in Chicago, who lasted four seasons with the Bears and one with Denver, then ended his career after a failed training camp stint with the Patriots. Robinson lasted four seasons with the Seahawks before being released due to an inability to lay off drugs, then tried to catch on with Minnesota and Green Bay before coming back to Seattle last year. His career may be over thanks to a knee injury. Ferguson has seen limited action in five seasons with the Packers and two with the Vikings.

Seymour? When you mention his name you say things like "best defensive lineman in team history" and "you'll see him in Canton some day". Seymour wears three Super Bowl rings proudly, one of them won during his rookie year when he and Light helped lead the Patriots to their first championship ever. Terrell was supposed to be a prime target for Bledsoe, but when 2001 ended, Bledsoe wasn't even the starting Patriot quarterback anymore and was traded to Buffalo on draft day in 2002.

Unfortunately, unlike Tedy Bruschi, who retired on Monday of last week, Seymour won't be able to say that he played his entire career as a Patriot. Seymour was traded to Oakland on Sunday for a 2011 first round draft pick, which could bode well for the Patriots if the Raiders continue to play as poorly as they have since their last Super Bowl seven seasons ago. The trade is still classified as shocking and earth shattering, but it does make sense and does answer some questions about the future of the Patriot defensive line, as well as the front seven in general.

It now appears that the Patriots will be in a 4-3 base for the foreseeable future. The Patriots will have Vince Wilfork and Ron Brace as interior linemen, with Ty Warren and Jarvis Green on the ends. The Patriots will use Jerod Mayo as the middle linebacker and Adalius Thomas at one outside backer position. The other outside linebacker job will go to either Tully Banta-Cain, Gary Guyton or former Raider Derrick Burgess. With Seymour gone, look now for Wilfork to receive a more favorable long term deal from the Patriots, and he will be a most eager listener this time.

But letting go of Seymour is not easily done.

In the 1960s you had Houston Antwine and Jim Lee Hunt. In the 1970s you had Julius Adams and Sugar Bear Hamilton. In the 1980s there was supposed to have been Ken Sims, but Garin Veris was a sublime designated pass rusher. In the 1990s you enjoyed Chad Eaton, and watched Pete Carroll convert linebacker Willie McGinest to a defensive end.

But in the 2000s you enjoyed the Big Three. Wilfork, Warren and Seymour. All first round picks. Wilfork has one ring, Warren two and Seymour three. Seymour was the big daddy, though he has yet to reach age 30. He seemed like an elder statesman, assumed a leadership role in the locker room, and was the rock of the Patriot front seven for many years. He was arguably the best defensive lineman in team history, though some older fans might still make a case for Antwine, who was a six-time AFL All-Pro.

Seymour was a five-time NFL Pro Bowler and a three-time NFL first team All-Pro. He is tied with Antwine for tenth in team history in total sacks with 39. Seymour was a bit of an injury problem, in that he played in all 16 of his team's games only twice in his career and did miss a huge chunk of the 2003 postseason due to injury. But Seymour, when healthy, was at the top of his profession and one of the most respected linemen in the business.

Seymour had an incident with Belichick in 2003 which was cause for some concern as to his long term happiness as a Patriot and his relationship with Belichick. He attended his grandfather's funeral in South Carolina and missed practices leading up to a game that weekend at home against Jacksonville. Belichick benched Seymour for the first quarter of that game, which according to reports greatly angered him. Seymour did eventually get a new contract in 2005, putting any thoughts of misgivings towards Belichick to rest.

This contract doesn't expire until the end of next season, so the Patriots traded Seymour with one more year of control left. Seymour's cap number for 2009 comes off the Patriot books, making the Wilfork situation seem more workable than ever. Seymour will likely get one more lucrative contract for his career, and will be 30 when it comes time to get that new deal.

Even though the Patriots are in a position to move on, it is extremely hard to say goodbye to Seymour. He was one of those special players whom you would have liked to have seen spend his whole career here. But the Patriots have apparently decided on keeping the younger Wilfork, so they say farewell to one of their most heralded players in history as he heads to one of the most woebegone teams in recent years.

Meanwhile, Light continues to help the Patriots. Belichick really does know more than we do.


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