The strange ranting of Randy Moss this week takes me back to the weekend of the 2007 Draft; much of it spent trying to sign Moss. It was a brief but intense negotiation that fueled some fire with Brett Favre when, for the first of two times, the Packers couldn’t agree with Moss on a contract.
Moss for sale
The Raiders bold experiment with Moss – they had traded Napoleon Harris and the 7th pick in the 2005 Draft for him – ended after two seasons when Moss could be had for a mid-round pick. Ted Thompson surprisingly had some interest, having been impressed with the way Moss handled himself at a charity event that he happened to be at in Texas. And Brett, of course, was extremely jazzed about the idea.
Now there were two parts to the deal to make it happen. First, there had to be agreement with the Raiders on draft pick compensation. We were offering a fifth-round pick and the Patriots later came up with a fourth. That, however, was the not the key to the deal.
One-year deal breaker
Moss was scheduled to make $9.75 million for 2007 and $11.25 million in 2008. Those amounts may well have been $100 million and $200 million; he was not making what was on the contract. We needed to bring in Moss, coming off a year with a pedestrian 43 receptions, at a more reasonable number with upside. The Patriots were also showing interest.
I negotiated with Moss’s agent while the recruiting from the alpha dogs – Brett and Tom Brady -- intensified. Moss was getting texts and calls throughout the weekend from both Favre and Brady both imploring him to come and form a powerhouse duo.
The offers from both teams were very similar for 2007, both around $3 million with additional incentives. Our proposal allowed Moss to make more than the Patriots proposal, although we had significant money tied to 45-man active roster bonuses, protecting us from injury if he could not play.
Our offer, however, required a second year in 2008. Moss and his agents were adamant that he wanted only a one-year deal. Having lost market value from his Raider experience, Moss would agree to a massive pay reduction for 2007 but wanted to hit the open market in 2008 coming off what he expected to be a big season.
The feeling in our discussions was that we did not want to rent Randy for a year only to have him shop to highest bidder in a few months trying to recoup some of his lost earnings in 2007. We discussed different ideas, but in the end we were insistent on a two-year deal. While we haggled about an appropriate roster bonus to activate the second year of the deal, the Patriots relented on the length and agreed to a one-year deal. That was it; he was going with Brady.
Brett was livid. The rest of the weekend I was fielding calls from Bus Cook about what went wrong in trying to sign Randy. Ted did not want to deal with Bus, so I listened patiently to their rancor and tried to explain our position.
I truly empathized with Brett. He had befriended and admired Randy for years and the two of them had dreamed of playing together. Here was an opportunity for us to make it a reality. But ultimately, we stood on our principles requiring more than a one-year commitment.
I told Brett to trust what we had at the position; that Greg Jennings would be a star in a couple years. He said he didn’t have a couple of years. Brett offered to give up some of his salary for the following season – although that was his last season with the Packers (see below) -- to bring in Randy. I told that was much appreciated but we would never take his money away from him to sign another player.
Brett was forever wanting a more aggressive attitude by the front office toward player acquisition than the present regime. My constant message that our method of drafting and developing talent rather than acquiring proven commodities only served to infuriate him and his resentment of a general manager that showed him none of the compassion and welcomed input of previous regimes.
Fast forward to 2008. After a wonderful year for the Patriots, catching 98 balls for 1493 yards and 23 touchdowns, Moss was a free agent as he designed, now with interest from several teams to cash in on his one-year deal. And cash in he did, re-signing with the Patriots for a three-year, $27 million deal with over $14 million guaranteed.
And guess what team showed some decent interest again in 2008? Yes, the Packers (along with the Eagles and Cowboys). But again, despite getting Brett's hopes up again, the Packers bowed out of the bidding (I had left the Packers at that point but heard the anger and frustration from Brett’s camp). Moss re-signed with the Patriots on March 3rd. Favre retired from the Packers on March 4th. Coincidence?
Now Moss is coming to the end of that deal with deafening silence from the Patriots about re-signing for the third time. A lot can change between now and March, but it appears he has had his run wit the team, and it’s been a successful and lucrative one. And one that found the Packers in second place for his services twice.
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