- Mike Reiss, ESPN Staff Writer
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Quick-hit thoughts from around the NFL and with the Patriots:
1. With defensive lineman Richard Seymour being placed on injured reserve this week, almost certainly ending his four-year tenure with the Raiders (he will be a free agent), it was timely to ask the question "Which team made out better in the 2009 trade between the Patriots and Raiders?" At the time of the deal, the thought was that the Patriots took a short-term hit dealing Seymour but gained more in the long-term. That holds true four years later, although one thing I didn't realize at the time of the trade was how things were brewing behind the scenes with Seymour and the Patriots. After a great run together, I don't think either side was happy with the other. After learning that, the trade made a lot more sense than it did at the time, and all but eliminates any chance of Seymour returning to New England in 2013.
2. Say this for Seymour, if maximizing financial opportunities was most important to him over the last four years, he's a big winner. The Raiders paid him more than $40 million in bonuses and salary over that time. We often call owners like Robert Kraft shrewd businessmen, and the same could be said for players like Seymour who hope to earn as much as possible in a short period of time. But for those looking beyond the bottom line, it makes one wonder if playing four years in the "Black Hole" on losing teams could hurt Seymour's legacy when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration.
3. While on our economic theme, here is the additional money that each player on a roster will receive for each round of the playoffs: $20,000 (wild-card round/non-division winner); $22,000 (wild-card round/division winner); $22,000 (divisional playoff game); $40,000 (conference championship game); $44,000 (losing team in Super Bowl); $88,000 (winning team in Super Bowl). So a player on a division-winning wild-card team that wins the Super Bowl would receive a total of $172,000, which is the highest possible total. Oh, and did you know that each player on the Pro Bowl winning team earns $50,000, while each player on the Pro Bowl losing team gets $25,000?
4. One of the great parts of the NFL is how intriguing new storylines present themselves each week. My favorite this week is how the Colts picked up some unlikely fans -- Peyton Manning and the longtime rival Patriots. We all know why: If the Colts beat the visiting Texans at 1 p.m. ET, it puts Manning and his Broncos in the driver's seat for the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and also opens up the possibility that the Patriots could still get a first-round playoff bye if they beat the Dolphins. If you're a Patriots fan, also consider the possibility that it comes down to an Adam Vinatieri kick. It could be just like old times.
5. Enjoyed this piece by Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal on the Patriots' up-tempo offense, and how the team could break the NFL record for most plays today against the Dolphins. That "go-go-go" approach has been one of the big themes of the season. There have been times when you almost wonder if the Patriots are going too fast.
6. When an unheralded player like third-year Bengals defensive lineman Geno Atkins (12.5 sacks) thrusts his way into the discussion among the best in the game and easily makes the Pro Bowl, I like to go back and read some of the scouting reports from when the player was coming out of college to see how he could have slipped under the radar. Atkins was a fourth-round draft choice of Georgia in 2010, and it looks like he was deemed to be undersized (6-foot-1, 293) and that teams had concerns about his production tailing off in his final season, and perhaps his stamina. It's a credit to the Bengals that they saw beyond that.
7. Did You Know, Part I: If the Patriots win today, it will mark just the second time in franchise history that they went undefeated in the AFC East. The other time, of course, came in 2007.
8. Did You Know, Part II: The Patriots enter today's game with 416 first downs. They need just one more to break the NFL record, set by the Saints in 2011.
9. Good luck to former Patriots backup quarterback Brian Hoyer, who makes his first career regular-season start today as the Cardinals have turned to him in the regular-season finale at San Francisco (Hoyer is the team's fourth starting QB this year). It's a tough spot for Hoyer to be placed, especially since he has only been with the club since Dec. 10. The Cardinals' official website detailed how Hoyer dialed up Tom Brady on Christmas Day to gather some intelligence on what Brady saw from the 49ers in the Patriots' Dec. 16 loss. That's a nice resource to have.
10. Remember the offseason buzz about how the Patriots should consider signing restricted free-agent receiver Mike Wallace to an offer sheet? Turns out it was mostly media-driven, but it's still interesting to see how things turned out for Wallace with the Steelers. It has been a down year for him statistically (64 catches, 836 yards, 8 TDs), with his 13.1 average easily the lowest of his career. A player always hopes to have his best year before hitting the open market, but that hasn't been the case with Wallace.
11. Scanning the Patriots' sideline during last Sunday's win over the Jaguars, the presence of scouting assistant Mick Lombardi was notable from this perspective. Bill Belichick has traditionally started his young staffers in scouting, with the idea of them learning more about personnel, and then they either stay there or head over to coaching (similar to Josh McDaniels in 2002). Belichick is always thinking a few steps ahead, and Lombardi -- the son of NFL Network's Mike Lombardi -- is a name I'm keeping on the radar when it comes to the 2013 Patriots' coaching staff.
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