After a wave of cuts today, one unit on the Patriot's defense is looking especially scarce: the defensive line. Justin Francis, Marcus Bernard, Marcus Forston, and Jermaine Cunningham, four players who provided some depth on the line, have all been released.
The biggest surprise there was Francis, who showed some promise last season but apparently was too hobbled with injuries to make the cut this year. Currently, the Pats only have three defensive tackles on the roster: Vince Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, and Joe Vellano. Obviously, this would lead us to believe the team is prepared to bring in some bodies to fill the now vacant back-up DT roles.
Scouting the current free-agent market at the position, there is one name that will jump out to Patriot's fans: Richard Seymour. Seymour, who had the most productive years of his career in New England, was traded to the Raiders before the 2009 season for a 1st round pick. As is usually the case in Oakland, Seymour's production steadily declined from that point.
In February 2011, Seymour signed a two-year deal with Oakland worth $30 million, making him the highest paid player at the position in the league. Now, he is currently a free agent. He is reportedly set to retire if he does not sign "the right deal," which likely means he is looking for a pay-day most teams aren't willing to provide. There was apparently some mutual interest in the spring between Seymour and the Falcons, but those rumors have died down.
Seymour played in 8 games last year for Oakland, recording 15 tackles and 3 sacks. With the Patriots suddenly looking very vulnerable at his position, it would make some sense for them to place him alongside former teammate Tommy Kelly on the depth chart. But the relationship between the Patriots and Seymour did not end well.
A potential reunion seems further unlikely in light of Seymour's comments during a Sirius XM NFL radio interview back in June, when he was asked if he would ever consider returning to the team that drafted him:
“I always felt like that chapter was closed when I left there,” Seymour said. “I’ve always been grateful for the time I spent there, and we had a great time together. I thought it worked well for both sides, but I kind of moved on from there.” (And, as Seymour noted, the Patriots “moved on as well.”)
“I don’t think that will be anything that we see in the future,” Seymour said of a second stint with the club that drafted him in 2001. (Quote from NBCSports.com)
So while Seymour could help here, these sentiments, combined with the fact that the penny-pinching Pats are unlikely to fork over the dough he is seeking, make a return to New England seem like a very unlikely scenario.
What do you guys think? Should the Patriots kick the tires on Seymour? Vote in the poll below or let us know on Twitter at @PatriotsLife and @LiamPCunningham