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Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Something amiss with Randy Moss trade

By Tim Graham

If New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick truly is a genius, then he had better have something up his hoodie we don't know about.

Wednesday's trade makes little sense given the information we have at our disposal at the moment.

Randy Moss
Randy Moss reportedly had a confrontation with Bill Belichick following the Dolphins game.
The Patriots dealt star receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings. ESPN's Adam Schefter reports the Patriots will get a third-round draft choice in exchange.

There are many ways to dissect the deal. The Patriots gave up only a fourth-round draft choice to get Moss from the Oakland Raiders in 2007. Moss spent three-plus seasons with the Patriots, helped Tom Brady set a few records along the way and was a major reason they came within one game of an undefeated season.

In that regard, the Patriots look like winners even though they couldn't hoist a Lombardi Trophy with Moss.

They gave up little to acquire a superstar who went to the Pro Bowl in two of his three full seasons and caught 50 touchdowns in 52 games. They went 40-12 with him, including an 11-5 campaign with Matt Cassel at quarterback.

But jettisoning Moss now is puzzling.

He's a game-changing receiver who keeps defenses honest and opens up the offense for players such as slot receiver Wes Welker and, this year, rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Moss is an elite deep threat.

Even though Moss is entering the final year of his contract and he had only nine receptions through four games (the Patriots are 3-1), his value to New England's organizational objectives for this year obviously is worth more than a third-round draft choice in 2011.

The Patriots, much like the New York Yankees, are the kind of team that legitimately expects to win a championship every year.

Without Moss, the Patriots seem to be significantly weakened on offense, and that's particularly troubling given the way their defense has faltered this year. The Patriots will need to win some games by getting into shootouts to overcome their defensive vulnerabilities.

AccuScore calculates the Patriots are 10.5 percent less likely to make the playoffs without Moss.

There must be more to this story than the Patriots merely trying to acquire a draft asset for a player who would be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Moss popped off a few times this year about not getting a contract extension from the Patriots and feeling unappreciated by the front office. Belichick publicly shrugged off those comments and heaped praise on Moss as a special player.

Reports surfaced Tuesday that Moss had requested to be traded after the season opener and, after being thrown at just once Monday night against the Miami Dolphins and finishing the game with zero receptions, had a confrontation with Belichick.

Maybe the trade makes the Patriots better simply by removing him, a classic addition by subtraction move to get the Patriots focused for the rest of the season.

We may learn more once Moss has unpacked his duffel bag in Minnesota.

Perhaps then this trade will make more sense.