Seymour thought his time with the New England Patriots was winding down. Sure, he was in the last year of his contract, but he didn’t think he’d even be in town to play it out. Whether he was going to get cut or traded, Seymour seemed to be preparing Warren for a future in Foxborough without him.
That all came to a head Sunday morning, when the Patriots traded Seymour to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round draft pick in 2011. When it all went down, Warren had an immediate flashback.
“Sey felt like something was going to happen along these lines,” said Warren, whose locker was right next to Seymour’s. “He mentioned that to me months prior to this happening, [but] I didn’t put much thought into it after he told me.”
Warren, who was staying at the Renaissance Hotel at Patriot Place with his wife Saturday night, received a flurry of text messages informing him of the trade. Even with the evidence, Warren was too skeptical and had to call the organization to verify the news.
After all, it was a shocking development for the players inside the New England locker room. While the Patriots didn’t have practice all weekend, they were still around Gillette Stadium getting some work done in preparation for the season opener against the Buffalo Bills.
Nearly all of them had the same reaction: They understand the business side of professional football, but they weren’t prepared to lose one of their most significant contributors both on and off the field.
“It’s the nature of the business,” running back Kevin Faulk said. “They have an agenda upstairs with the coaches, and they felt like that was the way they needed to go. You can’t do nothing about it.
“You get immune to your job, knowing what’s at stake, knowing what you have to do to make this team successful.”
Running back Laurence Maroney added, “I’m surprised about a lot of things, but I got used to it. With this organization, you never know what to expect. I’m just here playing.”
The Patriots have a ton of depth on the defensive line, which is probably their most talented unit across the board. Veterans such as Warren, Vince Wilfork, Jarvis Green, Derrick Burgess and Mike Wright will shoulder the brunt of the load, and rookies Ron Brace and Myron Pryor have shown enough talent in the preseason to earn their own chance to contribute.
And, because it’s the Raiders, the Patriots should really cash in with the 2011 first-round pick. From 2004-09, the Raiders were slotted with the second, seventh, seventh, first, fourth and seventh overall selections, respectively. Plus, things aren’t exactly looking up in Oakland.
Seymour, who will turn 30 next month, was in the last year of his contract with the Patriots, and it seemed unlikely the two sides would reach a new deal after the season. The Patriots are expected to save about $3.5 million this season because of the trade of Seymour, and this is a deal that should really benefit the Patriots long-term.
As far as this season is concerned, though, it’s hard to say they’re a better team without Seymour.
“That’s what they do,” Faulk said of the Patriots’ front office. “We play football. We can’t worry about all the moves that they make upstairs because that’s what they do. Our job is to play on the football field. Their job is to make the right moves, and hopefully it’s best for the team.”
The trade happened so suddenly that Seymour’s locker was still completely intact. It contained his pads, a notebook and some personal belongings, which suggested he was still in the area Sunday morning.
When he does officially depart for Oakland, he’ll be the fourth defensive leader to leave the team since the end of 2008. Linebacker Mike Vrabel was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, and safety Rodney Harrison and linebacker Tedy Bruschi retired.
So, it was fitting and perhaps symbolic that second-year linebacker Jerod Mayo was the first player to speak to reporters Sunday. The preseason captain has already taken a heightened leadership role with the team, and it will only get magnified after Seymour’s trade.
“He’ll be dearly missed as far as being a teammate, as far as being a player on the field,” Mayo said. “Hopefully, we can replace him.”