Richard Seymour has left giant footprints in Foxboro, in more ways than one...
The claim is that there are no "special" players. Ostensibly, the New England Patriots are a team of equals, interchangeable parts.
But as the 2009 off-season and pre-season have revealed, certain names have still risen to iconic, cherished status on the Patriots roster.
Vrabel, Bruschi and now Seymour top that list. Vrabel was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for draft picks. Bruschi's emotional retirement came this week. And now, it's being widely reported that Richard Seymour has been traded to the Oakland Raiders for a first-round 2011 draft pick.
Bruschi is one thing. Obviously, the aging linebacker saw the writing on the wall after sitting out much of this training camp with injuries. Reportedly, he was steps slower than his step-slow pace over the last couple of seasons when he did get back to the practice field. He'd made his incredible comeback after suffering a stroke; he'd risen to team leader, found a football home in Foxboro, and won three championships. He had nothing left to accomplish, nothing left to prove--except that he could walk away at the right time.
The other guys are something different.
Oh, sure, I was heard to bitch loudly last season that the Venn diagram containing Patriots defensive players with a clue and Patriots defensive players younger than 40 was a null set. Whether he would have put it quite that way, Bill Belichick seems to have agreed the defense needs a major overhaul, and we've certainly gotten one this off-season. And yes, it's been well known that Richard Seymour is up for contract renegotiations.
The attachment will fade, too. Rare is the time I think of, say, Willie McGinest or Lawyer Milloy, Deion Branch or Adam Vinatieri, though it hurt when all of those guys left.
But right now, today, while the memories of Richard and the moment is still fresh, I doubt anyone outside the Patriots locker room would have seen this move coming. The Patriots have some depth on their defensive line, but it's tough to imagine any of the newer, younger players taking on Seymour's role right away.