|Three reasons why Moss trade works and three reasons it doesn’t||10.06.10 at 12:59 am ET|
Randy Moss back to Minnesota? The news from Foxsports.com that the Patriots and Vikings are reportedly talking about a deal that would ship the receiver to Minnesota is stunning on a number of levels, and raises several questions.
Here are three reasons a deal would make sense, and three reasons it doesn’t (plus an important afterword):
Feeling A Draft: Bill Belichick covets draft picks like few coaches. He views them as draft day currency which can be flipped to create any number of scenarios, and with the serious possibility Moss wouldn’t return for 2011, it would certainly be in the Patriots best interest to get something for him while they could. (It’s safe to presume the deal would involve draft picks, not players.) However, based on their team-building approach, it seems unlikely that even with Moss in the final year of his contract, the Patriots would settle for anything less than a second-rounder — especially when you consider that the Patriots would get a third-rounder as a comp pick if he did leave as a free agent — which would still be a steep price to pay for a 33-year-old wide receiver, even for a team that has a serious deficiency at wide receiver.
The Brett Favre Factor: In addition, there’s the deep relationship between Moss and the Minnesota quarterback to consider. The two have been close for several years — Favre lobbied hard for the Packers to swing a deal to acquire Moss in 2007, and had the following statement after the Patriots picked him up in a much-ballyhooed draft weekend deal in 2007: “The last thing I want to do is start any [controversy],” Favre told ESPN. “But I think he would have been a great addition. You throw Randy Moss, you throw Donald Driver and Greg Jennings on the field at the same time, and go three-wide receiver set … and I think it’s pretty intimidating. And we lost out on that, and I think that it’s a shame, because I know we could have had him.”
Moss Being Moss: And finally, Moss’s personality must be taken into account. Publicly, he has been on his best behavior for the most part since he arrived in 2007, but recent comments from him regarding his future lead you to believe that he has made peace with the idea that he will be moving on from the Patriots at the end of the 2010 season. Was his zero-catch performance against the Dolphins on Monday night the beginning of the end?
On the other side of the football…
No Offense: If the Patriots did decide to deal him, they would be left with a gaping hole in their passing game in the middle of the season, which doesn’t appear likely. As we detailed here, his stats have taken a considerable dip this season, but he remains an unparalleled deep threat, someone who demands attention whenever he’s on the field. While second-year receiver Brandon Tate and rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez have certainly appeared to be major additions to the New England passing game, it certainly doesn’t appear that either one would be able to bring the same level of oomph to the vertical game that Moss could.
Deal Or No Deal: In the same vein, an in-season trade of this magnitude would force the Patriots’ offense to change dramatically. Since Bill Belichick took control in 2000, New England has made one dramatic in-season move — the trade of wide receiver Deion Branch to the Seahawks in 2006, and that came during the second week of September. (Technically, the release of Lawyer Milloy in 2003 came before the start of the regular season.) Simply put, history tells us that while Patriots have often used non-traditional team-building techniques, they are not the sort of franchise to make a big splash with an in-season trade.
Security Blanket: And finally, given Moss’s comments about his contract situation, it seems highly unlikely he would go somewhere without an extension of two or three years. The man is looking for long-term security, one more significant payday before he calls it a career. And former Belichick consigliere Mike Lombardi Tweeted Tuesday night, the Patriots haven’t allowed him to try and negotiate a long-term deal with another team. (They did it in the past with Branch, but that ended with a tampering charge against the Jets.)
As an afterthought in this whole situation, there’s also the relationship between the Patriots and Vikings to consider. Few teams get along as poorly as New England and Minnesota. These two franchises — and Belichick and Brad Childress in particular — have had a chilly (no pun intended) history that dates back to 2007 when the two sides were involved in a personnel scrap over some waived players. That escalated during the 2009 draft when Childress publicly crowed about selecting Percy Harvin before the Patriots were able to get to him. Why would Belichick agree to trade his No. 1 receiver to a team and coach with whom he’s clashed with in the past? Given the history between the two teams — New England has made one deal with the Vikings since Belichick took over the Patriots, a swap of picks on draft weekend in 2001 — these two teams don’t look like they’re ideal trade partners.
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