JaMarcus Russell doesn't have to worry about backup quarterback Jeff Garcia breathing down his neck anymore. As an added bonus, he probably doesn't have to worry about the Raiders having the crappiest run defense in the AFC this year, either.
In a pair of Labor Day weekend shockers so alarming that they might cause another crack in the eastern span of the Bay Bridge, the Raiders cut Jeff Garcia outright off the squad, and then traded 2011's first-round pick for New England Patriots' five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Richard Seymour.
Garcia getting the ax was unexpected, as he figured to be one of the better backups in the league and had just enjoyed earning a 105.0 QB rating in a preseason game against the Saints. But he's missed a ton of time in training camp with a sore calf and the old tried-and-true "personal reasons", and more than a few observers questioned his desire to play as a backup. When it became clear that JaMarcus Russell's starting status was carved into the concrete, Garcia may have too visibly shut off the underdog enthusiasm that makes him Jeff Garcia.
A roster cut such as this would normally indicate that one of the backups, Bruce Gradkowski or Charlie Frye, had proven himself in the preseason to be an adequate "poor man's Jeff Garcia." But neither did. They got the "poor" part down, but not the "Jeff Garcia" part.
But the bombshell wrapped in a stunner wrapped in a Darth Vader cape here is the Richard Seymour trade. That sound you just heard was the Raiders run defense automatically catapulting out of it's last-place ranking in the league. For one single season, at least.
The Raiders traded their first-round pick in the April 2011 NFL Draft (I should live so long!) to the Patriots for five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Richard Seymour. It should not concern you that Seymour is 30 years old, plenty of defensive linemen begin to peak at age 30. It should, though, concern you that Seymour is under contract for only this season.
That means the Raiders just gave up a first-round pick possibly for a one-year rental. Seymour is now in a contract year, so he certainly has incentive to produce big numbers and not mope about like Randy Moss on horse tranquilizers. But will Seymour have incentive to stay in Oakland beyond one year? Did the Raiders just let slip one of the most exciting players of the 2000-teens, whose name we do not know yet, just for a one-and-done quickie with a Pro Bowl tackle?
The long-term wisdom of the Richard Seymour deal is highly questionable. But one week before the opener, this year's Raider defense just got a whole bunch less miserable and way more exciting to watch.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who's not sure if a Richard Seymour Raiders Starter jersey is such a good long-term investment.