Keeping Richard Seymour has its price

February, 16, 2011
On one hand, the Oakland Raiders deserve a lot of credit for being proactive during this turbulent NFL time and securing a key part of their future.

[+] EnlargeRichard Seymour
Charles LeClaire/US PresswireThe contract of Richard Seymour, right, could make it hard for the Raiders to keep some of their other free agents.
Oakland had to keep Richard Seymour. The Raiders owe New England the No. 17 overall pick in the April draft from the 2009 trade that brought Seymour west. Once Oakland gave up that hefty price for Seymour, it had to keep him. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the Raiders made Seymour the highest paid defensive player in the NFL with a deal that is expected pay him north of $14 million and south of $16 million over the next two years. Seymour’s deal will give Oakland the ability to place the franchise tag on tight end Zach Miller.

Obviously, keeping Seymour and Miller is vital for Oakland.

But there are potential repercussions of this new deal for Seymour, a defensive tackle. Oakland paid way too much for Seymour, 31, and it could affect its ability to keep its big load of free agents, starting with star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. He, not Seymour, is Oakland’s best player. Asomugha’s contract voided and he will be an unrestricted free agent.

In January, Oakland owner Al Davis said he wanted to keep Asomugha, but he reasoned that rather than paying Asomugha the $17 million he would have been owed had his contract not voided, the Raiders could spread that money between two or three players. That makes sense.

So what does Davis do? He makes Seymour the new highest paid defensive player in the NFL.

What does that mean for Asomugha's future? It will likely take about $15 million for Oakland to keep Asomugha. He’s worth it. But paying two players a told of $30 million in a season is risky business. Oakland has 26 potential free agents, the second most in the league. Among Oakland’s potential free agents are running back Michael Bush, guard Robert Gallery, safety Michael Huff and cornerback Stanford Routt. The Raiders will have trouble keeping these key players.

I know Oakland had no choice but to keep Seymour, but this is a high price for a player who likely is not going to get better. In two seasons with Oakland, Seymour -- who showed flashes of dominance in 2010 -- had 10 sacks. He missed three games because of injury in 2010. He doesn’t have a lot of time left to be a dominant player, so Oakland is taking a risk. If Seymour is cut after this season, Oakland will owe him $22.5 million. If he is on the roster in 2012, virtually all of the $30 million will be paid.

Again, the Raiders need Seymour. He’s a big part of an improved defense, and he gives the team nasty presence. But he’s not worth being the highest paid defender in the NFL.

This move certainly doesn’t weaken Oakland, but it could affect Oakland’s chances to keep Asomugha and several other players. And, that, of course would hurt the

Bill Williamson | email

ESPN Oakland Raiders reporter



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