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Patriots reportedly plan on punting the next Hall of Fame search into 2022

Related: Richard Seymour misses Pro Football Hall of Fame cut for third straight year

NFL: JUL 26 Patriots Training Camp Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Despite already being in the midst of a global pandemic, the New England Patriots kicked off their Hall of Fame process last April. The club’s voting committee met virtually to find three finalists that were later voted on by the public. When all was said and done defensive tackle Richard Seymour, an unsuccessful finalist each of the three previous years, emerged as the winner.

But while Seymour beat out fellow finalists Mike Vrabel and Bill Parcells, he never actually received the famous red jacket. With Covid-19 drastically altering training camp and the Patriots being forced to ban fans from their premises throughout the season, no introductory ceremony ever took place.

The pandemic is still ongoing, but this is expected to change in 2021: the plan is for Seymour to be officially enshrined this summer to become the 30th member of the Patriots Hall of Fame — a group that also includes former teammates of his such as Tedy Bruschi (2013), Ty Law (2014) and Rodney Harrison (2019).

With Seymour now set to be enshrined, however, the team is reportedly planning on punting this year’s search for the next Hall of Famer into 2022: according to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the next finalist will not be voted on until next year. The idea is not to spoil the exclusivity of Seymour’s ceremony after circumstances prevented him from being honored last year.

The Patriots’ first-round selection in 2001, Seymour spent the first eight seasons of his 12-year career in New England and appeared in 126 games for the franchise before getting traded to the Oakland Raiders in 2009. The defensive tackle played a key role in New England’s first three Super Bowl-winning runs, was voted to five Pro Bowls while with the team and named to the NFL’s Team of the 2000s.

Seymour also is a member of both the Patriots’ team of the 2000s and the franchise’s 50th anniversary team, and was an unsuccessful finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame each of the last three years. While he has to keep on waiting for his gold jacket, he will finally make into the Patriots’ version this summer.

Next year’s process, meanwhile, could be a rather one-sided affair: defensive tackle and fan favorite Vince Wilfork will be eligible to join Seymour and company. He projects as the top candidate last year despite other franchise greats — guard Logan Mankins, wide receiver Wes Welker or safety Lawyer Milloy, among others — also having solid cases.