Seymour, Pats agree to long-term extension

Four-time Pro Bowl performer Richard Seymour, one of the league's most dominant and versatile front four defenders, on Wednesday reached agreement with the New England Patriots on a long-term contract extension, ESPN.com has learned.

Neither the terms nor the financial details of the contract were immediately available. But several league sources said on Wednesday evening that the extension is for four years, through the 2010 season, and worth about $30 million, which would make Seymour one of the highest-paid defenders in the league, regardless of position.

The contract was forwarded to the NFL for review on Wednesday afternoon and likely will be officially executed later this week.

Seymour, 26, was entering the final season of his contract and scheduled to earn a 2006 base salary of $2.02 million. Without the extension, Seymour would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency next spring, but New England officials would never have permitted him to reach the open market and probably would have used a franchise designation, if necessary, to retain him.

Dissatisfied with his contract last spring, Seymour skipped much of the Patriots' early offseason workouts. The two sides subsequently worked out their differences, with the Patriots enhancing the 2005 portion of his existing contract and essentially promising to pursue a long-term extension.

"I always thought that good things come to those who wait
anyway," Seymour said during a conference call.

"At the end of the day, when I lay my head down I want to be
happy," he added. "You can have all the money in the world and
not be happy."

At the annual NFL meetings in Orlando two weeks ago, one high-ranking New England official, aware of criticism from some Patriots fans that the team had not made many significant offseason moves despite a wealth of salary cap room, cited the ongoing negotiations with Seymour as one reason the club needed to maintain a healthy cap status.

"I'm not saying we'll get something done [with Seymour] but, in the event we can move this thing forward, we need to have the room to do it if the opportunity is there," the official said at the time.

The former University of Georgia star is a great fit for the Bill Belichick defense because of his ability to dominate at two positions. Seymour possesses a rare blend of strength and quickness, can play both the one- and two-gap styles and provides the Pats a player for whom opposition offensive coordinators and line coaches must game-plan.

In the 3-4 front that serves as the New England "base" defense, Seymour usually plays end. He moves inside to tackle when the Pats switch into a 4-3 front and also on some passing downs. Although he has been principally named to the Pro Bowl as an interior lineman, Seymour wreaks havoc, it seems, no matter where he is aligned.

A first-round choice in the 2001 draft and the sixth prospect selected overall that year, Seymour was an immediate starter as a rookie. The only thing that has slowed him, in fact, is injuries. In 71 appearances, including 67 starts, Seymour has 316 tackles, 25½ sacks, three forced fumbles, three recoveries and 19 passes defensed.

Last season, Seymour played in and started 12 games and registered 69 tackles and four sacks.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.