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The Stataholic: Is Richard Seymour Overvalued?

An in-depth look at the former New England and Oakland defensive lineman, who has been the focus of Atlanta's post-Umenyiora free agency efforts.

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Seymour made the Pro Bowl in 2011, but only saw eight games in 2012
Seymour made the Pro Bowl in 2011, but only saw eight games in 2012
Ezra Shaw

The match between the Atlanta Falcons and Richard Seymour appears to be over before anything even truly began. Or so it seems, if the latest reports hold true in the coming weeks.

Earlier in the week, I attempted to dissect why exactly Seymour (and a handful of other talented free agents) were still without teams as late as June. And the most likely explanation, influenced by Bill Barnwell, was the tighter salary cap under the new CBA. Many teams are still on the hook for old, not-so-cap friendly deals, as well.

And that seemed to make sense when you looked at free agents who had been coveted players in years past. But could it simply be that teams aren't biting on Seymour simply because he's an aging player who missed eight games in 2012?

His reputations certainly remains, but let's look at how he grades against a host of metrics.

First of all, let's be clear that Seymour had a great season in 2011 - 6.0 sacks en route to the seventh Pro Bowl selection of his career. Oakland's defense left something to be desired on the whole, but individually Seymour was one of the better defensive tackles in the league.

Last season, the story was somewhat different. Seymour played in eight games before landing on injured reserve, recording 12 tackles and 3.0 sacks on the year. Snap count-wise, there were weeks that saw Seymour out there for 80% of the time, and there were times he only saw 50% of the team's defensive snaps.

Oakland's defensive line on the whole, when you look at the team's Adjusted Line Yards (ALY - it measures how well an O-line did against them compared to the norm), was actually pretty good in 2012. The group ranked seventh in the league in rushing ALY, stuffing teams on 22% of all plays.

But as far as how the team handled runs off left tackle and runs up the middle, the group was much more pedestrian: Oakland's D-line ranked 13th on "mid/guard" runs and 22nd on runs off left tackle.

The stellar numbers at defending those end runs obviously speak to Oakland's defensive linemen, but the linebackers also play a big part in limiting carries around the edge. Those runs up the middle, however, have more to do with the Raiders' defensive tackles, of which Seymour was one.

And other teams clearly picked up on this, running mid/guard against the Raiders 57% of the time.

What about Seymour's overall value on the season?

If you consider his WPA (Win Probability Added) across his eight games, Seymour's 0.63 rating actually ranked 34th in the league, just above one of Oakland's new defensive linemen in former Falcon Vance Walker.

But Seymour's Tackle Factor (a measurement of his run-stopping success) ranked 77th at 0.54, and his Expected Points Added was pretty pedestrian at 10.6 on the season (67th among all DL).

Finally, and this is maybe the most important element of this analysis, Seymour made No. 8 on Pro Football Focus' "overvalued interior lineman" list based on his salary ($8.8M) and his relative performance.

But, he only makes that list because he misses eight games due to a hamstring injury that put him on season-ending injured reserve. As far as PFF's rating system goes, he was average in Pass Rushing Productivity (4.8) but graded at +8.5 as a run defender.

So what can we conclude about Seymour's performance in 2012?

1) Some of Seymour's overall value stats are skewed because he only played in eight games

2) Teams kept trying to run up the middle against the Raiders, obviously seeing a weakness there

3) PFF has Seymour as a solid run-defender, while Advanced NFL Stats and Football Outsiders imply that he was average to above-average

4) Seymour is 33 years old, and comes off an injury that caused him to miss half the season

While No. 4 should be a big knock against Seymour's value, this is where it's time for me to admit that my initial perception regarding the former Bulldog's play in 2012 was wrong. Yes, you heard right. Sometimes Doug Martin highlights do things to your memory.

Seymour was technically overrated, if only because he was certainly not worth the $10M+ salary he commanded with the Raiders.

But in a vacuum where everyone plays for free, Seymour was a rock-solid starter. As a backup on a cheaper deal, he would possess great short-term value.

The Falcons could've benefited, and it's unfortunate the aging veteran was unwilling to lower his asking price. But that's his call, and he's clearly fine remaining team-less over playing for less money.