High-priced Richard Seymour lost in the Raiders' shuffle

Lower Richland High graduate Richard Seymour played a visible role in the Raiders' loss Sunday at Cleveland.

Yep, back-to-back unsportsmanlike conduct penalties make people take notice.

Just how has Seymour's season gone since the Raiders gave up a 2011 first-round draft pick to get him in September? Have the New England Patriots snookered Al Davis again?

Maybe his skimpy stats (four sacks) are deceiving. Maybe not. Someone please tell us.

"You can't run on my side. That's just the bottom line," Seymour said when asked to analyze his season after Sunday's game. "There's always plays you wish you had back. That's the ebbs and flows of the season. It's tough when you're down in a hole earlier in the year and fighting your way out of it."

Seymour is a strange read. He commands lots of respect by virtue of his championship-laden tenure with the Patriots. He remains a top-notch lineman.

But he has gone unnoticed too often this season for such a prized - and pricey - acquisition. The only time Seymour commanded our attention: Predicting on the radio two months ago that the Raiders would make the playoffs. Don't knock him for that call. It's better than saying, "No chance."

"I had no expectations," Seymour said. "I'd just come in and play football. It is what it is. I had no preconceived notions when I came into this situation. I came in as one of the guys, they accepted me and we went out and played football. I look at it as a blessing to play in this league.

"They felt my services were needed here. I'm happy to be a part of it."

Happy? How can anyone on the Raiders be happy except on payday?

The Raiders (5-10) just clinched their seventh straight season of double-digit defeats. They enter their final game against the Baltimore Ravens hoping to relive their spoiler role from a year ago, when they knocked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from playoff contention and coach Jon Gruden to the unemployment line.

Let's back up to Seymour's claim that teams can't run to his side. That's a bold statement. Is it true? Can't totally be. But it's also quite possible that teams have been running past Tommy Kelly, Greg Ellis and others.

Regardless, that can't-run-on-me quote seems arrogant and full of self-preservation. Seymour's arrival was seen as a boon to the league's second-worst run defense in 2008.

But the Raiders have allowed a league-high 21 rushing touchdowns this season. Hence, Seymour's presence isn't working wonders.

He certainly isn't getting much help behind him. The Raiders linebackers are wildly inconsistent. Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard seem to make one exceptional play for every five bad ones.

Sunday against the Browns, running back Jerome Harrison would run toward Seymour's side, Morrison would pursue that pile of bodies and Harrison would cut back through a gap to dash into the secondary.

The Raiders are allowing 149.9 yards rushing per game, ranking them 29th in the league and ahead of only the Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.

Seymour typically lines up at right defensive end. He hasn't had a sack since Oct. 18, when he had two in the upset of the Philadelphia Eagles. He hasn't had more than three tackles in a game since then, either.

Seymour's only other two sacks came in a season-opening loss to the San Diego Chargers, when his future in Raiders garb seemed so promising.

His contract expires after this season. What to do? The Raiders can and should bring him back next season, preferably by using the franchise tag to restrict his free-agent availability. Giving him a multiyear deal will be too expensive and too dangerous if he's truly on the downside of his career.

Seymour, 30, won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, tallied 39 sacks there and made five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances along the way.

Mystified as to why he drew those back-to-back penalties against the Browns, Seymour quipped about it possibly being attributed to the "Raider mystique." Welcome to Raider Nation. He called the refs biased, and the NFL might be calling for a chunk of his game check for that.

But Seymour has been in this rodeo long enough to know what other proper quotes to say in absorbing a defeat.

"Trust me, there's no one to blame but ourselves in this locker room," Seymour said.

Whose locker room is it? It's not JaMarcus Russell's. Not coach Tom Cable's. And Seymour has not done enough in the outstanding-play department to deem it his own.

So it goes, another high-priced import lost in the shuffle of another lost season.