"I'm still in awe that I'm a part of this organization. I think that he's the kind of coach that can motivate me. He has a proven track record." -- Randy Moss on Bill Belichick the day he was acquired by the Patriots in 2007
Randy Moss and the Patriots were the classic marriage where everyone, probably even the parties involved, knew deep down that it could only end one way.
For over three years, everybody said all the right things, acted cordial, cleaned up after each other. But in the end, much like a real-life marriage where mutual physical attraction (or in this case, otherworldly athletic gifts) is the primary draw, eventually you see what Randy Moss looks like when he wakes up in the morning enough times to ask yourself "What the fuck am I doing?"
That day came today when the Patriots filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences and traded Randy Moss basically for nothing.
Sure, the transaction will read "Patriots trade WR Randy Moss and a 2012 seventh round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2011 third round pick", but the Patriots recent history in the draft indicates that this will ultimately be rationalized more as a "distraction dump" than any attempt to sell a stock when its slightly devalued rather than let it walk for nothing at year's end. (More on this in a minute.)
The fact of the matter is that for the third time in his career, Randy Moss has compelled his employer to essentially put him on eBay and take whatever the market will bear. In 2005, the Vikings traded Moss to the Raiders for a first and a seventh round pick. In 2007, the Raiders (after two utterly miserable seasons from the team and Moss) traded Moss to the Patriots for a fourth round pick. Now the Patriots have traded Moss back to the Vikings for the aforementioned third rounder.
Circle of life, I guess.
The difference with today's Moss trade and the previous two is that this one is being done in season. Further, the Patriots are actually a contender in the AFC. It's the "Bizarro Deadline Deal." In terms of impact, if this were baseball, this would be the Philadelphia Phillies trading Roy Halladay back to Toronto in late July for a minor leaguer. If this were basketball, it would be the Lakers returning Pau Gasol to Memphis for an expiring contract or the rights to some obscure Euro in February. If this were Maggiano's, it would be trading the veal parmesan for a $5 Subway gift card.
In other words, if the goal is to win a championship in 2010, there is no logical explanation for this deal if you're a Patriots fan. That is, unless Moss is that big a turd behind the scenes.
On the heels of the trade, reports emerged from New England that Moss had a spat with Patriots quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien at halftime of the Dolphins game this past Monday night -- a game the Patriots won handily 41-14 despite Moss catching not a single pass. Sources indicated that this was the not the first spat between Moss and O'Brien.
Bill Belichick made damn sure it was the last.
The Patriots spin on this will be one of "chemistry addition by attitude subtraction" and of stockpiling draft picks. The merit of the former can really only be understood and validated if you're inside the Patriots locker room daily; the merit of the latter is dubious, at best, given the Patriots recent drafting history.
Consider the 2006 through 2008 drafts. These are players who are now in their third, fourth or fifth years in the league -- in other words, your best young building blocks. From those three drafts combined, the Patriots selected 26 players. A paltry four remain with the team -- starting safety Brandon Meriweather, linebacker Jerod Mayo, kicker Steven Gostkowski, and reserve wide receiver Matt Slater.
By comparison, the Texans 2006 through 2008 drafts provide 15 players on the current roster (out of 21 selected), including seven starters, several key reserves, and three Pro Bowlers (Mario Williams, DeMeco Ryans, and Owen Daniels).
Granted, Scott Pioli was the Patriots' general manager during those three drafts and he's now in the process of trying to reconstruct the Kansas City Chiefs, but Belichick certainly had a huge say in those selections, and the fact of the matter is three drafts have basically yielded two non-kicker contributors. That's it. Basically, the Pats are built on quicksand right now, and Tom Brady can only keep them from sinking so much longer.
My point is that, as a sidebar to the debate on whether this Moss trade makes sense for New England, folks will point out that the Patriots now have eight picks in the first four rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft. My retort would be that you traded one of the three or four best receivers in football for a coin flip's chance at the next Jacoby Jones, he himself a third round pick in 2007.
Belichick's defense is going to put his team in a lot of 34-31 type of games this season. Today, the Patriots became a whole lot less-equipped to deal with that dynamic.
Meanwhile, the Vikings sell a little piece of their soul to try and appease Brett Favre, buying him the toy that he wanted so desperately when he was with Green Bay in 2007. The Vikings are now forced to either sign Moss to an extension or brace themselves for the first headphone-clad post game tirade, which by my estimate will probably occur sometime around early to mid-December, when the sand on the Vikings playoffs hourglass is about to run out.
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The Patriots had the wherewithal to rein in Moss, it was just a matter of how long they would do it before it was no longer worth it. The Vikings are a different story. The superstar bullshit that Bill Belichick, Serial Killer won't stand for, Brad Childress inadevrtently and implicitly encourages. If you don't believe me, then go Google "Brad Childress Brett Favre."
Indeed, this may be one of the rare trades where both teams actually are worse off now than they were before.
Randy Moss again making the impossible look easy.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from 3-7 p.m. weekdays on the "Sean & John Show" and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.