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Moss dealt to Minnesota for third-round pick

10.06.10 at 9:09 am ET
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Broncos Patriots Football

Randy Moss bids farewell to New England after three-plus seasons with the Patriots. (AP)

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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