Sunday, April 29, 2007
The Patriots acquired troubled wide receiver Randy Moss (that's his official position, "troubled wide receiver") from the Oakland Raiders today in exchange for a fourth round draft pick. The Raiders used the pick to select Cincinnati cornerback John Bowie.
Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli and company are hoping the move revitalizes what was once a potential Hall of Fame career for the 6'4", 210 pound Moss, the Minnesota Vikings first round draft choice in 1998. He peaked with the Vikings in 2002-2003, teaming with Daunte Culpepper for 217 catches, 2,979 yards and 30 touchdowns in two seasons. His production was cut in half in 2004 (49 catches, 767 yards) and he was traded to Oakland, where his combined two season totals (102 catches, 1558 yards, 11 touchdowns) were less than his best two individual years in Minnesota.
Moss's addition should reap dividends for the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady, who has seen his wide receiving corps undergo a huge makeover this offseason. In the team's divisional playoff win against San Diego in January, Brady completed passes to Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney, Troy Brown, Daniel Graham, Kevin Faulk, and Ben Watson - three receivers, two tight ends, and a back. After much maneuvering, however, he will start 2007 with a group that includes Moss, Donte Stallworth, Wes Welker, Kelley Washington.
Another bright spot? Brady is heading into the summer with his receivers set, allowing him to build a rapport with each throughout the various mini-camps and training camp. This is in sharp contrast to 2006, when Deion Branch was traded and the Caldwell/Gaffney duo was essentially dropped in his lap.
On-field issues shouldn't be a problem (assuming Brady's shoulder is well enough to allow for consistent accuracy), but it will of course be interesting to see how Moss responds to Belichick and vice versa. Like Corey Dillon, he is a talented player who has picked up a reputation as a malcontent in his travels through the league. Dillon lasted three seasons in New England, setting the single-season rushing record and winning a Super Bowl ring in 2004 before asking for his release this offseason. If Moss can do the same, he will be welcomed with open arms.
(Question: the article linked above noted that Caldwell and Gaffney are signed through this year, while Troy Brown is a free agent. Does the addition of so many receivers mean the Troy Brown Era is over in New England?)