SPARTANBURG -- It was April when Carolina Panthers linebacker Adam Seward went to Boston for a job interview.
Monday afternoon, it sounded like he was still there lobbying.
Seward was disappointed New England never made an offer sheet, calling it a "tremendous honor," to even be considered by the Patriots. He also mentioned that he was a better fit inside the New England 3-4 defense than the Panthers' 4-3 system, and that it was frustrating being "stuck behind first-round picks" Dan Morgan and Jon Beason since arriving in 2005.
But he loves it here. No, really.
Seward made one of the plays of the night in Saturday's preseason opening win over Indianapolis, jumping a pass to the flat for a first-quarter interception. As much as it showed the depth the Panthers have on defense (he was one of five replacement starters), it also might have been among his last highlights here. They got starting middle linebacker Jon Beason back on the practice field Monday morning, and they're also pleased with the progress shown by rookie Dan Connor.
So it might not have been the best time to pine away for the girl who almost asked you to the prom.
New England would have had to give up a fifth-round pick to sign him (assuming the Panthers didn't match), and eventually chose not to. Seward's now under contract to the Panthers through this season, after which he'll become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign anywhere.
"It was interesting," he said. "Being here for three years and playing hard, it was kind of crazy to see a team like New England, who everybody views as the gurus of scouting, who do such a great job of bringing in late-round picks and free agents and turning them into superstars. So when they came calling, it was a tremendous honor, even though things didn't work out."
The Patriots signed linebacker Victor Hobson and used their first-rounder on Tennessee's Jerod Mayo, with Mayo looking like the best bet to start inside next to Tedy Bruschi.
Seward spoke of the "complicated" nature of restricted free agency and said it was gratifying to him that after starting just two regular-season games in three years, one of the top teams would call.
"One thing I did leave there knowing was that they were very interested in me and thought very highly of me," he said. "I was trying to keep things in perspective, but it's weird playing special teams here for three years, and being told indirectly that's your role on this team, and then having a team say, 'Hey, we've seen your preseason film of you starting. You've come in in the regular season when guys have gotten hurt and played well, and then special teams, you've been a monster, and we think you have starting potential.'
"It was great (to have the interest). Any team in general, especially the Patriots. It just seems that every year, they do something, some way, to win games."
As if Seward didn't do enough to alienate his current employer, he kept talking.
The 250-pounder is bigger than most of the Panthers' middle linebackers (Beason's 237 and Connor's 231), and said he thought he'd be better served playing in a 3-4 system. He referred to New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who was deemed too slight to play 3-4 for the Jets before they traded him south.
"Coming into the draft, 3-4 teams were what my agent and me were looking toward," Seward said. "Most of our linebackers are 230 pounds, and I'm 250, 255 pounds. And when you're that big, taking on blocks and being inside is a better fit than playing in a Tampa-2 defense and running downfield. I still feel I can do it. I had a great 40 time coming out in the draft, and still feel when I move on that field I move as well as anybody.
"But 3-4, 4-3, ... I think I fit well in both schemes, but being a bigger linebacker, I feel like I have more value in a 3-4, because you can't just plug in a smaller linebacker."
Seward honestly wasn't trying to napalm his bridges in Charlotte, saying a number of times he was grateful to the Panthers for drafting him. It also gave him access to team orthopedist Dr. Robert Anderson, the renowned foot specialist who repaired Seward's right foot in 2005.
"I owe a lot to Carolina, too," Seward said. "They brought me in, they gave me a chance, they fixed my foot."
They also drafted Seward's eventual replacement in Connor, a guy they weren't expecting to be there in the third round. Seward laughed about the acquisition, with the realization it made him a short-time player here at best.
"We kind of joked about that (prior to the draft), we have 11 linebackers, and they'll probably draft a linebacker in the first three rounds and sure enough they did," Seward said. "You can't fault the Panthers for that. He's a great value pick, and he's a great linebacker, too. Any time you get a guy like that in the third round, I'd have done the same thing.
"It's competition. It makes people better."
His comments about the Patriots obscured the fact he played so well Saturday, ably directing the defense to a strong first quarter against Indianapolis. They're glad to have him for that ability, since past years have gone to heck when Morgan was injured. He actually got his chance in 2006 when Morgan suffered a concussion, but was eventually replaced that year by Chris Draft.
"He did a good job," Panthers coach John Fox said before Seward's interview. "He's played a lot of football for us. I thought he did well operating in there in (Jon) Beason's absence. It's unfortunate that Jon wasn't in there, but that usually opens the door for somebody else, and I thought Adam managed the game very well."
The question remaining is how he'll manage now that his bosses know he's looking so admiringly at another.
• Panthers notebook, daily digest • 3C