The trade of Randy Moss from the Patriots to the Vikings for a third-round pick in the 2011 Draft, without a contract extension for Moss, proves a few things, all within the theme of: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
You can go home again
I remember a frigid Saturday in February 2005 when Vikings management called me at home urgently looking for Bus Cook’s cell phone number. They were in active talks to trade Randy Moss and wanted to run it by Cook, an advisor to Moss and Moss’s agent Tim DiPiero. Knowing I dealt with Cook with Brett Favre, they assumed I would have his mobile number, which I gave them.
The Vikings wanted no more of Moss at that time. They discussed his petulance and immaturity and were intent on moving him. Moreover, they had an offer from the Raiders – the 7th overall pick in the upcoming Draft and linebacker Napoleon Harris – that they thought was great value for Moss with all his warts. Moss had overstayed his welcome in the Twin Cities and was shipped to Al Davis and the Raiders that same weekend.
That was then, this is now. With a crying need at the position – Sidney Rice on the shelf with a serious injury and Percy Harvin unavailable at any time due to migraine headaches – and the window for top-level success closing on this group, Moss is now welcomed back to the Minnesota, with the powerful quarterback leading the charge. Speaking of which…
The Favre factor
As I recounted, Brett Favre has long envisioned playing with Randy Moss and advocated for Moss with us at the Packers on different occasions. Donald Driver and Greg Jennings were outstanding receivers but to Brett, Randy was the white whale.
The Packers tried – with varying degrees of effort – to obtain Moss in both 2007 and 2008. In 2007 – the one I was involved with -- the stumbling block was our demand for more than a one-year deal, a length that the Patriots tolerated. In 2008, the Packers kicked the tires on Moss again, but lagged behind the Patriots, Eagles and Cowboys in their financial and emotional recruitment of Moss. And when Moss re-signed with the Patriots for a three-year deal worth $27 million with $14 million guaranteed on March 3, 2008, Favre retired from the Packers the next day.
Soon after that time, the welcome mat was rolled out in Minneapolis for Favre, especially starting June 21, 2008 when Mike McCarthy told Brett those three fateful words that started the divorce proceedings: “We’ve moved on”.
After cooling his heels with the Jets in 2008, Brett was finally able to join the team he wanted to be with since the Packer divorce, the Vikings.
From Viking ownership to management to coaching staff to players, Brett receives the warm embrace of affection that he expected from the Packers, for which he was the face of the franchise for 16 years. When the Packer relationship ended in divorce, the Viking courtship began and remains in full bloom. The Packers, meanwhile, are still upset that tampering allegations brought to the league about the Vikings recruitment of Favre while still a Packer were not taken as seriously as they would have liked.
As we have seen, the Vikings treat Favre differently from their other players and make no apologies for doing so. They hold the door open to Favre despite his spending the offseason at home, they send teammates to fetch him, they add money to his contract with no strings attached and, though they will deny it, it appears they welcomed his input in adding this special talent to the roster. As someone close to Brett told me, with his birthday on Sunday, this was the present he wanted.
In addition to their visions of playing together in Minnesota, Moss is probably commiserating with Favre on the coldhearted treatment he received from his now-former team. Just as Favre felt neither bedside manner nor personal touch from the Packers front office, Moss is experiencing the same in New England.
The Patriots do what they do with player negotiations. As for public comment, they simply do not engage, letting the player or agent’s words fall quietly to the ground with no response nor escalation. Their silent indifference is more frustrating to players and agents than, for example, general manager AJ Smith’s defiance out in San Diego.
Logan Mankins is ignored. Randy Moss is tolerated with no talk of extension. As in Minnesota in 2005, Moss appears to have worn out his welcome and is cold product. It would be the Patriot way to move on and acquire compensation before he left as a free agent next year.
No new contract
Moss wants to continue to be paid as he was in his now-expiring deal, a $9 million average per year that compares favorably to recent top-of-market wide receiver deals for Brandon Marshall and Miles Austin (who is receiving $17 million in 2010).
There have been no discussions between the Vikings and Moss about an extension past the 13 games remaining on his contract. Certainly, the plans of a certain quarterback that professed to be in the last year of his career will factor into extension plans.
Further, there is the issue of the locker room in Minnesota. Were Moss, an incoming player, to receive an extension, the line at the door that has been waiting patiently for their turn at the trough – Ray Edwards, Ben Leber, Chad Greenway and even Adrian Peterson – would go into revolt. Special treatment for Favre is one thing; the same for Moss would be fractious for that team.
For now, though, Moss is short-term fix for a team built to win now. The rest is – pardon the pun – a secondary concern.
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