Richard Seymour was drafted 6th overall in 2001, the year the Patriots won their first Super Bowl. Since then, he has been the bedrock of an impressive and stout Patriots front. Today, he was shipped to the Oakland Raiders (aka, the fifth level of hell) in exchange for Oakland's first draft pick in 2011.
This off-season, the Patriots have parted ways with Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Rodney Harrison, and now Richard Seymour. It also seems they will dump Vince Wolfork sometime in the near future. Unbelievable.
Right now, even with Tom Brady supposedly healthy, the Patriots cannot be the favorite to win their division. Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, and Rodney Harrison are people one simply does not "replace." These players were the backbone of a team that won 16 regular season games just two seasons ago. And while players like Jerod Mayo and (possibly) Ron Brace offer tremendous potential, right now they are NOT the players that helped build the formidable Patriots teams of the early 2000s.
FYI folks, if the Colts had lost Bob Sanders, Gary Brackett, Dwight Freeney, and Robert Mathis this off-season, literally NO ONE would take the Colts seriously as a playoff team. This off-season, Patriots traded away or lost talent on par with the Colts players I just listed. Yet, I highly doubt the douchebags at Bristol will write off the Pats the way they write off every other team that loses key players.
It will be very interesting to see what kind of Patriots team will get fielded in 2009. As of right now, it seems their defense will not be as good as year's past, which will force them to score points.