NFL Nation: Randy Moss trade 2010

Video: Randy Moss press conference

October, 7, 2010

Newly acquired Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss addresses the media at his introductory press conference.

Belichick backs Moss, but vague on details

October, 7, 2010
At a Thursday news conference that lasted less than seven minutes, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick sounded at times defiant, annoyed and businesslike while leaving most questions about the Randy Moss trade unanswered.

Belichick insisted the deal was not made because of disciplinary or contract issues, but he declined to elaborate on why the organization traded a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a seventh-round draft choice to the Minnesota Vikings for a third-round draft pick.

Belichick heaped praise on Moss. "A total fabrication" is what Belichick called reports of Moss' refusal to speak with him on the team's return flight after beating the Miami Dolphins on Monday night.

"There was never any incident or discipline problem with Randy," Belichick said.

"There never has been one with me in four years, and it certainly wasn't about contract and money. I think Randy showed the first year he was here what that was all about, he re-did his contract and made the whole deal work. I think you can eliminate those two things."

From there, however, the explanations were vague.

Belichick was not asked specifically about reports of a verbal altercation between Moss and quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien.

Belichick insisted quarterback Tom Brady was not consulted about the move and was dismissive of the notion a player would have any say on a personnel decision such as this.

There was a moment where Belichick reminded everyone he knows what he's doing.

"In the end, that was the decision," Belichick said. "I have confidence in our players, that if they continue to work hard and improve that we'll be competitive and be able to win games. That's what we're here to do: win games.

"We've won more games than any other team in the last decade. Hopefully we'll continue to win them going forward. That’s what we’re here for."


Video: Setting the scene in Foxborough

October, 7, 2010

ESPN reporter Wendi Nix sets the scene at Gillette Stadium for Thursday, the first media access to the New England Patriots since trading Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Moss reportedly refused to talk to Belichick

October, 7, 2010
The longer Randy Moss is gone from the New England Patriots, the more we'll probably learn how difficult he was to deal with toward to the end of his time with the team.

That's how it goes sometimes. An organization will defend a player as a consummate professional as long as he's a teammate, but when he leaves the stories start to leak out.

Boston Herald reporter Karen Guregian and former Patriots receiver Troy Brown have shared inside information about a growing rift between Moss and the coaching staff that become untenable.

Perhaps the last straw wasn't Moss' locker room confrontation with quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien at halftime of Monday night's victory over the Miami Dolphins.

On the flight back from Fort Lauderdale, head coach Bill Belichick reportedly went back to visit with Moss and was turned away.

"The coach likely knew the situation had reached a point of no return," Guregian wrote.

Guregian on Tuesday night was the first to report Moss had requested a trade after the season opener.

Brown, appearing as a guest on Comcast SportsNet New England, told a similar account about the flight home and also said he'd heard Moss had been "pouting" behind the scenes.

"Apparently, Belichick came to the back of the plane to speak with Randy," Brown said, "and Randy just pretty much ignored him and didn't respond to anything he had to say.

"I guess there were a few other members of the team -- some front-office people and maybe some players -- that tried to talk to him, just talk to him in general, and he didn't respond to those guys, either.

"Obviously, the plane ride home for Randy wasn't a good one."
If there is one thing that Randy Moss never misses, it's a perceived slight from an opponent. And in the hours since the Minnesota Vikings acquired him from the New England Patriots, two opponents have already provided quality fodder.

First up is New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis, who figures to match up with Moss frequently Monday night at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Revis told local reporters that Moss doesn't always run hard, a well-known fact that nevertheless figures to be noticed. Speaking about Moss' performance in last month's Jets-Patriots game, Revis said:

"In the second half, you could tell he was putting his foot on the brakes. I mean, everybody knows that's Randy. Sometimes he plays 100 percent, sometimes he doesn't."

Next: Green Bay Packers tight end Jermichael Finley, whose team will host the Vikings in three weeks. According to Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Finley said Moss was "just another player."

Finley: "Moss is no concern here because we have the best receiving corps in the league. ... It's going to be alright. It's not going to be tough at all. I think we'll still take the NFC North. It's just another player."

We'll compare notes in a few weeks on that one.

Revis claims Moss put 'foot on the brakes'

October, 6, 2010
New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis isn't sure if he's going to suit up Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings.

So what?

Revis already is playing verbal bump and run with Randy Moss.

The New England Patriots traded Revis' archrival to the Vikings on Wednesday, setting up another potential showdown between superstars who have chirped back and forth for the past year.

The last time Moss ran a route against Revis, he blew by and scored a 34-yard touchdown with a gorgeous, one-handed grab in the end zone. Revis re-aggravated a hamstring injury on the play and has missed the two games since.

But in the second half of that Week 2 game against the Patriots, cornerback Antonio Cromartie held Moss without a reception. The Patriots, playing from behind, couldn't catch up and lost 28-14.

"In the second half, you could tell he was putting his foot on the brakes," Revis told reporters Wednesday at the Jets' facility in Florham Park, N.J. "I mean, everybody knows that's Randy. Sometimes he plays 100 percent. Sometimes he doesn't."

Revis called Moss a slouch in an interview with Deion Sanders during last season's playoffs because Moss gives up on plays too often.

"You can tell. You can see the effort," Revis said. "Playing football, you can see the body language and effort of people, if a guy's going hard or a guy is hesitant. That's the way football is. The truth comes out. You could see it in that game."

Halftime 'outburst' preceded Moss trade

October, 6, 2010
In an earlier column, I wrote there had to be more to the backstory regarding the New England Patriots' decision to trade Randy Moss four weeks into the season.'s Mike Reiss might have discovered the trigger.

Reiss, citing unnamed player sources, reported Moss and quarterbacks coach Bill O'Brien got into a heated exchange at halftime of Monday night's victory over the Miami Dolphins in Sun Life Stadium.

One of Reiss' sources described the verbal altercation as an "outburst" in the visitors' locker room. The story also noted this wasn't the first sign of friction between Moss and O'Brien, the de facto offensive coordinator.

Moss didn’t have a catch at halftime and had been targeted only once. Tom Brady didn't throw to Moss for the rest of the game.

Two days later, the Patriots finalized a deal that sent Moss to the Minnesota Vikings for a third-round draft choice.
Randy Moss’ trade from New England to Minnesota for a third-round pick came up very quickly.

It made us wonder if any of the four AFC West teams could have gotten into the mix, or if Moss was a fit for any of the teams in the division. We examine:

Denver: There is a connection here. Moss had his best year with Denver coach Josh McDaniels as his offensive coordinator. However, the Broncos’ passing game is working well with several complementary pieces. Denver needs a running back, not a receiver at this point.

Kansas City: On the surface, this was probably the best fit in the division. Kansas City general manager Scott Pioli helped bring Moss to New England, and the Chiefs’ offense is missing a veteran receiving threat like Moss. Plus, Moss and Kansas City quarterback Matt Cassel hooked up for 11 touchdown passes in 2008 in New England. Yes, Moss would have made the young Chiefs even more dangerous. But this is one of those situations where if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. The Chiefs are 3-0 and they have a very good vibrations going on. While Moss could help in the short term, but he could be a derisive force in the future. I don’t blame Kansas City for not pursuing this deal.

Oakland: Moss proved Wednesday he can go back home again. But I don’t think the welcome mat would be at the door in Oakland. This wasn’t a good marriage in 2005-06.

San Diego: The Chargers have their own receiver issue with Vincent Jackson. San Diego has proven in four games without Jackson that its passing game is fine in its current state.

Patriots' O moved away from Randy Moss

October, 6, 2010
The New England Patriots' offense evolved to the point Randy Moss was marginalized through the first quarter of the season.

[+] EnlargeAaron Hernandez
AP Photo/Stephan SavoiaThe Patriots have relied on mutiple tight end sets featuring players such as Aaron Hernandez, making Randy Moss expendable.
Patriots overlord Bill Belichick certainly had that in mind when he opted to trade the first-ballot Hall of Famer to the Minnesota Vikings, reportedly for a third-round draft choice.

Moss averaged 2.3 receptions per game and didn't have any catches Monday night, but the Patriots still managed to go 3-1 before their bye week. He had nine catches for 139 yards. Moss scored three touchdowns, tying him with Wes Welker for the team lead.

But the Patriots also have gotten two touchdowns apiece out of former practice-squad running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski and street free agent Danny Woodhead.

New England's playbook isn't what it used to be.

The Patriots don't rely on that spread-style offense of their past three seasons. They don't operate exclusively out of the shotgun anymore with three-receiver sets.

ESPN Stats & Information logs every NFL play and finds no other team operates with multiple tight ends more than the Patriots this season.

The presence of rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Gronkowski and veteran Alge Crumpler have allowed the Patriots to use at least two of them on a league-high 146 plays so far, according to ESPN Stats & Information's research.

For comparison's sake, the New York Jets have gone with two tight ends on 88 plays, the Miami Dolphins on 48 plays and the Buffalo Bills on a league-low six plays.

ESPN Stats & Information indicates the Patriots are on pace to run 584 multiple tight end plays this year. They ran 360 last year.

You might be surprised to discover 19 teams have used at least three wide receivers more frequently than the Patriots this year. The Patriots are on pace to run only 356 plays with at least three wide receivers.

In last year's research, Stats & Information didn't break down formations of more than three receivers, but the most common set for the Patriots were three wides, one tight end and one running back. They operated with that grouping 534 times. The Patriots ran 300 plays out of a trips formation alone (three receivers on one side of the field).

With multiple tight ends, Tom Brady has completed 72.2 percent of his passes for 367 yards and five touchdowns.

Overall, Brady has completed 69.7 percent of his attempts for 911 yards and nine touchdowns.

Multiple tight ends haven't impacted the Patriots' running game, though. They are on pace to rush for 1,956 yards this year. They rushed for 1,921 yards last year.

I know that's a lot of formation data to digest.

But examining the Patriots' offense from this perspective helps to explain how Belichick and play-caller Bill O'Brien can justify unloading Moss four games into the season and still think they can get to the playoffs.

The big question, however, is how much Moss' mere presence on the field impacted the rest of the Patriots' offense. Moss kept defenses on red alert for the deep ball every time he was on the field. Defenders had to cheat his way, opening the offense for other targets.

Second-year receiver Brandon Tate has been sensational as a kick returner, but his next NFL receiving touchdown will be his first. Can he fill the void and stretch the field?

Given the direction of their offense, the Patriots felt comfortable enough to gamble and said goodbye to a proven

Randy Moss redraws NFC playoff picture

October, 6, 2010
The Minnesota Vikings’ acquisition of wide receiver Randy Moss heats up what had been a cold start to the NFC playoff race.

While the impact on the Vikings’ passing offense is huge, the loser in the trade could be the NFC East. With Brett Favre once again armed with a legitimate deep threat and the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers potent offensively, the NFC East could lose the chance to get a wild card. Putting Moss on the Vikings also could affect the NFC East winner’s chances of getting home-field advantage.

The NFC East has three 2-2 teams and a 1-2 Dallas Cowboys squad that many thought would be the favorites to win the conference. If Moss is the explosive player who can add a yard to Favre’s yards-per-attempt average, the Vikings go back to being a possible 10- or 11-win team competing with the Packers and Bears.

No wild card will come out of the NFC West because odds are against the winner of that division winning more than eight games. If the NFC East settles into an average division with a bunch of teams between eight and 10 wins, then the hopes for an NFC East wild card would be pinned on the failures in the NFC North, figuring that the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons have shown enough to indicate two playoff teams will come from that division.

The Moss trade hits the NFC East hard because the NFC East plays the NFC North and all four teams have to figure out a way to stop Moss. The Vikings have yet to play a game against the NFC East. If Moss is the difference in those games, that would help the Vikings go 3-1 or better in NFC East matchups. That type of impact would ruin wild-card chances and seeding in the playoffs for the NFC East winner.

Favre and the Vikings desperately needed Moss. They tried every way possible to acquire Vincent Jackson but couldn’t come up with the draft-choice compensation of a No. 2 and No. 4 to satisfy the San Diego Chargers. Favre’s yards-per-attempt average was down to 6.2 without Sidney Rice. Last season, Favre, particularly against blitzes, would send Rice straight downfield to beat a cornerback, something Moss has been doing his entire career.

The Vikings counted on Rice making one or two 20-yard catches a game. Not only does Moss fill that void, but the Vikings could be that much better in the second half of the season if Rice comes back.

Perhaps the most interesting showdown will come Oct. 17, when the Vikings play host to the Cowboys. Moss already has tried to make the Cowboys pay for bypassing him in the draft. Now, Moss, Favre and the Vikings could have an impact on the Cowboys’ playoff run.

John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for

Belichick makes statement on Moss trade

October, 6, 2010
The New England Patriots officially announced the Randy Moss trade and distributed a statement from head coach Bill Belichick:
"Over the course of the past several months, I have spoken with Randy and his representative about Randy's place on our team and his future in football. Consistent with my dealings with Randy from the day we acquired him through our conversation this morning, it has been honest, thoughtful and with great mutual respect.

"While I will keep private the details of internal conversations with players and staff, suffice it to say that many things were taken into consideration before making the trade. In this business, there are complex and often difficult decisions, but it is my responsibility to make them based on what I feel is best for our football team in both the short term and long term.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to have coached Randy Moss and aside from facing him as an opponent, I wish him the very best for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career."


MossWatch: Vikings confirm trade

October, 6, 2010
I haven't seen any helicopters overhead just yet, but I imagine things are about to get pretty wild here in the Twin Cities. The Minnesota Vikings have announced their acquisition of receiver Randy Moss, and coach Brad Childress will address the deal in a news conference at 3:30 p.m. ET. Should be interesting.

In a statement, Childress said: "We feel very good about the opportunity to add a player of Randy Moss' caliber to this football team. He is a tremendous competitor and was an integral member of the Vikings organization from 1998-2004. Once again, ownership was completely supportive of our efforts to add a valuable football player to our team. I know the entire organization is thrilled to welcome him back to the Twin Cities and look forward to his contributions."

Moss and quarterback Brett Favre are scheduled to address the media Thursday.

And in a predictable move, the Vikings have already issued a Twitter alert for fans to purchase new No. 84 jerseys. The team's uniform style changed in 2006, two years after his original departure.
With receiver Randy Moss now on board, the Minnesota Vikings now have six potential Hall of Fame players on their roster. Based on current career projections, that list includes Moss and:
Last season, 10 Vikings players were named to the Pro Bowl. Four were first-team All-Pros. All told, this is a team with an obscene roster. On paper, at least, the Vikings have the most talented collection of players in the NFC and arguably the entire NFL.

[+] EnlargeMoss/Brady
AP Photo/Michael DwyerThe Vikings are counting on Randy Moss to make a fast transition.
But are they the best team? That question is much more subjective and far less easily answered. While the fashionable thought Wednesday will be to lock them in as Super Bowl favorites, I think we should pause a bit before so much as anointing them NFC North champions.

The Vikings (1-2) are already looking up in the standings at the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, both of whom are 3-1. They will open the most brutal stretch of their season Monday night at the New York Jets, followed by games against the Dallas Cowboys, at the Packers and at the New England Patriots. If they're above .500 at the season's midpoint, they should consider it a major accomplishment.

I'm going to hold back on any knee-jerk reactions and reserve judgment on whether my original thought on this division -- that the Packers were the best team -- should be changed. But I will say this: The fate of the NFC North now rests in the Vikings' hands. They now have the talent, and are rid of all obstacles, to win this thing going away. Whether they do it is purely up to them.

From my vantage point, here are the pressure points that will determine the outcome:

  1. Is Moss still the same deep threat he was in his prime with the Vikings? In four games this season with the Patriots, Moss had nine catches. Only two of them were on passes that traveled more than 15 yards downfield, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Since Sidney Rice's hip injury, the Vikings' offense has sorely lacked a downfield threat who could make difficult catches in coverage. At 33, is Moss still an elite receiver? According to Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc., he is. "Moss goes deep -- probably better than anyone who has ever lived," Williamson said. "His ball skills are out of this world and he has tremendous hands. Maybe he has lost a smidgen of speed, but getting downfield and behind coverage is not a problem for this guy -- at all. He certainly can take the top off of a defense, provide big plays and open up a lot of room underneath for the running game, Percy Harvin out of the slot and Visanthe Shiancoe in the middle of the field."
  2. Will there be an adjustment period? It's certainly reasonable to expect one, but the schedule we just discussed doesn't really allow for it. For Moss to take the Vikings where they want to go, he needs to hit the ground running. But for what it's worth, he has never played in a West Coast offense. Moss' football intelligence has always been first-rate, but that doesn't mean he'll have a seamless transition or instantly be in sync with Favre.
  3. Can the Vikings protect Favre enough to allow the longer passes to develop? To this point, they have not. Favre was battered in their first three games and there are once again questions about whether John Sullivan (calf) will be healthy enough to play Monday night. Williamson said: "In order to go deep, you have to protect. Minnesota's offensive line looks worse than ever to me. Pulling this off won't be easy."
  4. Will Moss be on his best behavior? You would think so, but his long history of trouble with every organization he has played for should at least give us pause in this regard. The Vikings apparently won't give him a new contract, which should leave him hungry and motivated -- or could also have an opposite effect. The Patriots tried that same tack, leaving him with an expiring contract for motivational purposes, and it backfired. Will Moss accept the same situation in Minnesota?
  5. Can coach Brad Childress accommodate what is surely to be a Favre-Moss faction of offensive-minded thoughts? Childress' clashes with Favre last season over that issue were well-documented. Trust me when I tell you that Moss is every bit as strong-minded when it comes to scheme as Favre is. Williamson said Moss "won't run West Coast routes" if Favre has any say in it, but this offense has been awfully rigid over time.
  6. How will the Packers and Bears match up with a Vikings offense that once again has a deep threat? The Bears, for one, have made substantial improvement to their pass defense with the addition of defensive end Julius Peppers. They are playing their Cover 2 scheme as well as ever. When played right, it dramatically reduces an offense's ability to get the ball to outside receivers. As for the Packers, cornerback Charles Woodson, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, didn't arrive in the NFC North until after Moss' departure and probably has his own ideas about how their matchup might go.

The Vikings are now unquestionably the most talented team in the NFC North and NFC. They've got the best players money can buy. Whether they have the best team, however, is open for debate. I'm not willing to go there. Yet.

Three AFC North teams avoid Randy Moss

October, 6, 2010
There has to be a sigh of relief coming from several defensive backs in the AFC North. Three division teams caught a break Wednesday as the New England Patriots traded future Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss to the Minnesota Vikings.


Not only does Moss leave the AFC, but the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns all get to face the Patriots this year without one of the league's best deep threats. New England's next game -- the first this season without Moss -- will be Oct. 17 against Baltimore. It will be a rematch of last season's wild-card victory by the Ravens.

The Patriots also play the Browns on Nov. 7 and the Steelers a week later on Nov. 14. Moss caught five passes for 59 yards in New England's 38-24 win against the Bengals in Week 1.

New England's passing game is not nearly as dynamic without Moss. Wes Welker, Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman now highlight the Patriots' receiving corps.

This trade definitely hurts the Patriots (3-1) in their quest to reach the Super Bowl. The AFC is deep, and the AFC North also has at least two teams --Baltimore (3-1) and Pittsburgh (3-1) -- considered strong title contenders. It could only help teams like the Ravens and Steelers if one playoff contender makes itself less formidable with a huge in-season trade.

Something amiss with Randy Moss trade

October, 6, 2010
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.

[+] EnlargeRandy Moss
AP Photo/Wilfredo LeeRandy 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.