When Al Davis last spoke with the press, during the announcement that Hue Jackson would be the next head coach, he spoke about free agency. Davis essentially said that he saw more value in signing two or three players than spending $17 million on one. At that point, I closed the book on the Raiders re-signing Nnamdi Asomugha.
The Raiders then quickly turned around and signed Richard Seymour for $15 million in 2011. At that moment it became clear to me that Al Davis was choosing Seymour over Nnam.
Contract wise there are some big differences as Nnam is likely going to require a lot more guaranteed money and a longer deal, but in terms of 2011 season, there numbers are going to be close.
There are a lot of similarities between the two.
The two play what are arguably Al Davis' favorite positions: defensive line and corner. Both players are among the top at their position. Although, Nnamdi would probably rank higher in most people's mind in position rankings, and he was much higher in the player voted NFL's top 100.
Seymour is two years older, but that is certainly negated by the fact that the length of the deal is much shorter than what would be required for Asomugha. Both men have missed time with injuries over the past two seasons, and it would be foolish to expect either to play every game.
So, what is it that made Davis go with Seymour over Nnam? It is one thing: intangibles.
Nnamdi is the ultimate professional. He is well-prepared; he keeps himself in shape; he is a student of the game; he is courteous with his time with the press, and he helps tutor the younger players. And that is not a bad list of intangibles, but—and, like a young J-Lo, this is the key but, he lacks Raider menace. Richard Seymour has that in spades.
Seymour is one of the baddest men in the NFL. He plays physical and he lets people know about. He carries attitude with him in excess. He has swagger to spare, and it is spared on the players around him.
He is the perfect player for Hue Jackson to point to when he speaks of building a bully. ...but that's not it. Nnamdi has not been overly concerned with being the Raiders team leader. And Richard Seymour is intent on earning that position.
He was the first to arrive to the 2010 training camp when he rode the bus with the rookies. He gives pre-game locker room speeches to fire up the team; he tells the press he was born to be a Raiders, and he foots the bill for player led workouts.
It is these kinds of things that helped the Raiders turnaround the culture of apathy, and it was those kinds of things that swayed Al Davis into giving Seymour the money he decided Nnamdi wasn't worth. And I have to say I agree with him.
Now watch Al Davis find a way to sign Nnamdi, too. But assuming he doesn't, what would you have done—chosen Asomugha or Seymour.