|10.06.10 at 12:30 pm ET|
Without Randy Moss in the lineup, expect the Patriots to lean heavily on second-year wide receiver Brandon Tate and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez when it comes to replacing Moss’ presence in the vertical game. It’s a relatively small sample size, but the two youngsters are the only two pass-catchers currently on the roster who can replicate the yards per catch average that Moss was able to bring to the table.
But while New England will still be a pass-first offense, the deal could signal an overall change in the way the Patriots offense operates. Mike Tanier of Football Outsiders suggests that, for now, the speedy Tate will take over the role of “designated deep threat.” But with Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski and Alge Crumpler, New England fans should look for an offense that more resembles the one the Patriots ran in the earlier part of the decade.
“While Brandon Tate will probably be the designated deep threat, I don’t think it’s accurate to say that anyone will ‘replace’ Moss. What I think the Patriots will do is go back to their early-decade offense — you can already see that with all of the multi-tight end sets they are running,” Tanier said. “I think there’s going to be a much greater emphasis on ball control, and that will serve them better against opponents like the Jets, Ravens, and Steelers in the AFC.
“That being said, I think they will struggle to take the lid off opposing defenses.”
|10.06.10 at 12:23 pm ET|
The Patriots have confirmed the trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings, and have just issued the following release, complete with a lengthy statement from head coach Bill Belichick.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced today the trade of WR Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings for an undisclosed draft choice.
“Over the course of the past several months, I have spoken with Randy and his representative about Randy’s place on our team and his future in football. Consistent with my dealings with Randy from the day we acquired him through our conversation this morning, it has been honest, thoughtful and with great mutual respect.
“While I will keep private the details of internal conversations with players and staff, suffice it to say that many things were taken into consideration before making the trade. In this business, there are complex and often difficult decisions, but it is my responsibility to make them based on what I feel is best for our football team, in both the short term and long term. I am grateful for the opportunity to have coached Randy Moss and aside from facing him as an opponent, I wish him the very best for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career.”
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|10.06.10 at 11:11 am ET|
Appearing on ESPN Wednesday morning, former NFL wideout Chris Carter (once a teammate of Randy Moss) said that Moss is prioritizing getting the kind of love given to other star athletes, and he sees that coming in the form of a contract extension.
“Randy’s thing right now is, number one, he wants to be appreciated like a lot of other star athletes,” Carter said this morning on ESPN. “And the appreciation comes with a contract extension.”
Carter, who was extremely critical of Moss’ play last season, believes the trade to Minnesota will be good for him … if the aforementioned appreciation is shown.
“I think if he gets the extension he will be very happy,” Carter said.
The ESPN analyst later added, “Moss knows ‘go deep’ better than anyone in the history of football. I don’t care where everyone else is playing. If Brett says, ‘Hey, man, go deep,’ that part right there is easy to work out.”
|10.06.10 at 10:04 am ET|
|10.06.10 at 9:55 am ET|
NFL.com analyst Pat Kirwan joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the Patriots’ trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
“For the future it makes sense, because they weren’t going to re-sign him, so they’re getting what they always like to get, second- and third-round picks, in this case a third. Who knows whether they parlay it for a first,” Kirwan said. “It does beg the question, ‘What are they thinking about for this season?’ I felt this way when they moved Richard Seymour the last time.”
Looking at how the Patriots will move on without Moss, Kirwan said: “They must think an awful lot of Brandon Tate. And they must really think with [Rob] Gronkowski and [Aaron] Hernandez, they can keep going forward. Someone’s got to play the weak side, outside of Wes Welker. That’s what sets Welker up all the time. I don’t know how that’s going to shape up right now. Right now, I’d say they going to think Brandon Tate can go over there and do that.”
Kirwan said to expect to hear stories filter out about Moss being a negative influence on the team, “Now we’ll hear all kind of rumors that he was unhappy in the locker room and everything else,” Kirwan predicted. “But I’m up there enough, and I’ve watched them practice enough, the guy practices hard and he’s still got great talent. How long it’s going to last, I don’t know. But for this season and next season, you’re getting a premier player in Minnesota, and I did not a deterioration of skills this summer when I was up there, nor did I see it when I watched him on tape.”
Asked if the deal was made from a football standpoint and not based on emotions, Kirwan said: “I worked with Bill, not very long, but, unemotionally is how the man operates. He’s a business guy and he sees what he has, and he usually doesn’t like to leave the cupboard bare.”
Ultimately, the biggest winner might be the Patriots’ division rivals. “No one’s happier than the New York Jets,” Kirwan said. “They couldn’t care less about the one game they have to play against Randy and Minnesota [Monday night]. They know that their arch enemy is not the same team they were before.”
|10.06.10 at 9:40 am ET|
|10.06.10 at 9:09 am ET|
The Patriots and Vikings have completed a deal that sends wide receiver Randy Moss back to Minnesota for a third-round pick in the 2011 draft.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter appeared on Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning and confirmed the trade.
Moss, 33, is a seven-time Pro Bowler who was drafted by the Vikings in 1998, and played in Minnesota for seven years before being dealt to Oakland. A miserable two-year stretch with the Raiders followed before the receiver was reborn in New England with Tom Brady — in 51 regular-season games with the Patriots, Moss has 50 touchdown catches, including an NFL-record 23 in 2007.
However, Moss, who is in the final year of a three-year contract he signed after the 2007 season, had made it known on several occasions that he did not anticipate being brought back to the Patriots after this season. In a memorable postgame press conference following the season-opening win over the Bengals, Moss said he felt unappreciated in New England because he hadn’t received a long-term deal.
“This is the last year of my contract. Nothing has been discussed. There’s not been anything said. Not a letter. Nothing,” Moss said last month. “I’m not saying that I want to stay here, but I love playing here. If the future of my job lets me go to another team, then that’s what it’s going to be. But for right now, I’m still in a contract for the New England Patriots, and I have a job to do.
“I don’t want to talk about contracts. I just want to let you all know that I’m here to play my last season out. If an opportunity later on in the season presents itself for me to be a New England Patriot, I will accept that. But if it doesn’t, I must move on.”
Moss’s numbers have taken a significant dip this season. Through four games, he has only nine catches, and on Monday night in Miami, did not catch a single pass for the first time in his three-plus seasons as a Patriot.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Tuesday afternoon that there have been no overall changes to the Patriots’ passing game.
“The passing game (Monday) night is the same way the passing game has been for the last 10 years,” Belichick said Tuesday, before the trade news broke. “You call a pass pattern, you have multiple receivers running various routes and, based on the coverage and the matchups, the quarterback decides where the best opportunity, leverage, space on the pattern is, and that’s who he throws to. That’s the way it always is. That’ll never really change.”
Moss returns to a place where he enjoyed great success as a younger player, compiling six 1,000-yard seasons with Minnesota. The Vikings have had serious issues at wide receiver all season — Sidney Rice is out at least six weeks with a hip injury, and Percy Harvin continues to battle migraine issues. As a result, Minnesota and quarterback Brett Favre have struggled, losing two of their first three games.
In return, the Patriots receive a third-round pick for Moss, and now appear to be focusing squarely on the 2011 draft, where they have two first-round picks, two second-round picks, two third-round picks and two fourth-round picks.
When it comes to replacing Moss’s production, that burden will now likely fall to a variety of young pass catchers, including second-year wide receiver Brandon Tate and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez, both of whom have put up good numbers throughout the early stages of the 2010 season as mostly intermediate and short-range targets for Brady. However, it remains to be seen if anyone can replace Moss as a deep threat — while the majority of his numbers have taken a hit this year, his yards per catch this season — 15.4 — still match up favorably with his career average of 15.6.
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