The trade that brought Richard Seymour to the Raiders before the 2009 season drew instant criticism as another example of Bill Belichick picking the pocket of Al Davis.
It was Belichick who got Randy Moss from the Raiders for a fourth-round draft pick and ended up with 50 touchdowns in 51 games, during which time all Oakland receivers combined -- wide receivers, tight ends and running backs -- had 43.
So when the Raiders dispatched their first-round draft pick in 2011 for a 30-year-old defensive lineman, it was natural for some people to assume the Patriots would be getting a top-five pick and Oakland would get a player just beginning the downside of his career.
Instead, Seymour, moved inside to defensive tackle after playing all over the line a year ago, is having his best season and the Raiders are tied atop the AFC West with Kansas City and in control of their own destiny due to tiebreakers.
"I think Al Davis whipped the Patriots on that trade," Seymour said with a laugh.
After having four sacks a year ago, Seymour has 4.5 so far in eight games this season (he missed Week 2 with a hamstring strain) and already has 39 tackles, with a career best of 57 in 16 games with the Patriots.
Over the Raiders' three-game win streak, Seymour has looked not only like a lock for his sixth Pro Bowl berth but a candidate for defensive player of the year.
At least that's what Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger thinks.
"I've been playing against him for awhile now and I've always thought he was a marquee player, one of the great players," Roethlisberger said. "But if you ask me, with the film I've broken down, he's playing the best football of his career, and I don't mean any disrespect to what he did in New England. He's wreaking havoc on everything and everybody."
Seymour attributes comfort level and game circumstances to increased production.
"I think it's a combination of everything, just getting comfortable with what we're trying to do, plus it makes it a lot better when you put points up on the board and can get after the passer," Seymour said. "When you win, that's when recognition comes."
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin agrees with experts who say Seymour is having an outstanding season. His involvement in the Raiders front seven has made a tremendous impact.
“They create pressure with their manpower, and that manpower is led by Richard Seymour<” Tomlin told reporters this week. “They have a bunch of sacks, but the majority of them come from a deep, talented four-man front, with as much as an eight-man rotation. It starts inside and up front for them. Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are the guys who drive the bus.”
On Sirius NFL Radio, Tomlin went on to evoke references to Seymour’s glory days in New England, stating that he sees a rejuvenated Seymour playing better now than at any time in his past. Tomlin should know, he saw the damage Seymour could do as part of the Patriots – Steelers rivalries before the Patriots traded Seymour to Oakland.
Material from the Sports Xchange was used in this report.