Randy Moss went back home Thursday to the first team to give him a chance in the NFL by selecting him as the 21st pick of the 1998 draft. The Minnesota Vikings are sure to benefit from having the journeyman receiver as their new deep threat.
Vikings QB Brett Favre needs an adrenaline shot like this to get back to form, and Moss even stated that if there was any team he'd want to be traded to it would be the one he started with. He even took his old number 84 back and asked fans to find their old jerseys, promising it would be a "fun ride" with the Vikings despite claiming he had no idea why New England really traded him.
The whys of this weird trade are still being analyzed. After all, the Patriots are left with a big hole to fill and no viable immediate options on the team roster right now to replace the star receiver. Moss broke records in New England with Tom Brady in his first year (98 catches for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns) and averaged nearly a touchdown per game (50 TDs in 52 games) with the Pats. Why not let this stellar wide receiver reach the end of his contract before casting him away for a third round draft pick?
The answers to some of the more controversial whys behind this trade might never be answered, but the indicators point to a few solid reasons behind the timing and motivation for this move.
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First, it's a bye week this week for the Patriots, so there is plenty of time to shop around for a younger, but proven deep threat to fill the gap. Also, if nobody can be found and/or acquired in time, the Patriots offense has a little while to adjust. The coaches will be asking the already young and promising receiving corps to take it to the next level in Moss' absence. Coming off a game in which the Patriots were firing on all cylinders and all kinds of young superstars were emerging and starting to stand out, it may have been perfect timing to pull the trigger on this surprise trade. It puts a little needed pressure on the offense after a game where defense and special teams stood above the offense as far as big game-changing plays go.
Second, Moss and the Patriots were not on the same wavelength, and there was certainly tension. Knowing this was the final year of a contract the Patriots were not eager to renew, Moss felt unwanted in New England. There are also reports of an assistant coach from New England and Moss getting into a recent argument that might be a factor in the timing, though team officials deny there is any connection. Since Moss has been rowdy and unpredictable in the past, maybe the Patriots didn't want to wait for the powder keg to blow again. If drama really did lead to this decision to send him packing, Moss may have made some unforgivable statements or displayed an attitude the coaching staff couldn't tolerate. Still, it's a stretch to think this was the be-all-end-all motivation behind the drastic maneuvering.
Third, the trading deadline is approaching fast and the Patriots acquired Moss for a fourth round draft pick, so they technically made out pretty good on the deal. They get a 3rd round pick for next year now, and Bill Belichick is notorious for cultivating young talent and going the extra mile in scouting. He no longer seems interested in building a Superbowl winning team as much as he is driven to create a new dynasty from the ground up. This is a long term deal, and even though New Englanders may be bent out of shape about it and shaking their heads in dismay this will help the team in the long run.
It doesn't hurt that the dvision leading Jets face the Vikings this Monday night, and the Patriots would love to see them lose.
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Whether they go shopping for a replacement or make the new guys step up and work harder, the Patriots will be just fine without Moss, and they proved that in Randy's last game as a Patriot. He didn't catch a single pass in that Monday night game against Miami. Don't bet on the same results for this Monday, though, as Brett Favre will be eager to throw to this new kid on the block. If the two get their timing down it could be an incredible season for both and the Vikings could be contenders again. Only time will tell.