Insiders Report: What's The Deal?

Life isn't always a bed of roses for the New England Patriots in spite of winning 3 of the last 4 Super Bowls. Those victories weren't easy. The team has had to overcome turnover at a number of positions including the defensive line. One stalwart on that line however has been Richard Seymour. Seymour knows his presence has been a big factor in those wins. Now that he skipped minicamp, is training camp next if he doesn't get a new deal?

Insiders: Seymour and More
By Scout.com Staff

Patriots defensive tackle Richard Seymour remains mum on his reason for skipping the Patriots June 9-12 mandatory mini-camp. It's assumed that his mini-strike is contract related since Seymour will earn only $2.8 million in 2005, which is well below the salary level of the league's top defensive tackles - the franchise number of which is $5.1 million for 2005.

But given the chance to confirm the reason for his absence, Seymour refused comment and would not elaborate on if his decision was merely to make a statement or if it was the start of what could be a protracted training camp holdout that could become ugly.

After skipping the mini-camp, Seymour did attend the team's championship ring ceremony and the club's charitable foundation golf tournament the following day and he lauded the organization when fielding questions from the media.

"I'm not discussing my current situation. I won't speak about my contract," Seymour said. "I want to remain a professional as I've always been. I wanted to be with my teammates (at the ring ceremony) and they wanted me here. I love this organization and I love the fans and I hope we can get another ring. I know how to separate things."

His presence at the charity golf tournament a day later was proof that Seymour has separated his contract displeasure from other team obligations, but it remains to be seen if Seymour will think it's important to be on the field with his teammates in July while he still has two seasons left on the six-year deal he signed as a rookie - one that will pay him close to $20 million if not renegotiated before it's expiration.

Asked why he wouldn't answer the questions about skipping mini-camp, Seymour calmly said, "Because I'm not. I'm a man of my word. I'm not going to answer those questions."

As he wrapped up his interview, he also was asked if he would attend training camp. He ignored the question and said, "Thank you guys," and walked away.

So now one is left to wonder if Seymour will attend training camp without a new contract. His original deal included $11 million in guaranteed money including $8 million in bonus payments. He will earn escalators of more than $5 million over the next two seasons.

NOTES

Safety Rodney Harrison refuted a report the he contemplated skipping mini-camp because of any unhappiness surrounding his salary. "I'm under contract," he said. "I honor my contract. If I didn't like it, I shouldn't have signed it. I'm obligated to be here and I'm happy to be here. I'm a football player and I plan on going out and kicking some butt. I'm here for my teammates and everyone else on this team and in this organization."

Harrison was asked during mini-camp about his contract and said, "I've done everything I possibly can to help this team, this organization and be respectful of the fans and appreciate what they've done for us and go out and put my best foot forward every single time. No I'm not one of the highest paid safeties and I don't think I'm in the top 10. Would I like to be? Yes I would like to be. But what do you do? You just keep working hard, you just keep fighting, you just keep going and doing the best you can do."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

The personnel front is relatively quiet in New England; although it wouldn't be surprising to see the Patriots tweak the roster before training camp or even after it begins. They've done that in the past in signing players like Otis Smith, Bryan Cox and Roman Phifer as late as August. The team also traded for Ted Washington during training camp in 2003.

The club did waive too undrafted rookies last week, sending long snapper Travis Conway and tackle Mike Lorenz out of town. That leaves the Patriots with 88 players on the roster. Only one of the team's seven draft picks has signed with the club. Mr. Irrelevant, tight end Andy Stokes, inked a two-year, $557,500 deal that included a $17,500 signing bonus and salaries of $230,000 and $310,000.


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