Take it from someone who lives in the Boston area. Facebook is currently littered with text messages of how stupid the Patriots are, how stubborn Bill Belichick is, how cheap Robert Kraft is, and how the Patriots are officially screwed. We can hear the wind blowing in the background when fans call in to WEEI and The Sports Hub because they’re standing on top of a tall building or bridge. My question to those panic-stricken fans is simply this — what did you expect?
The New England Patriots have traded Randy Moss to the Vikings for a third-round pick in the 2011 draft. Sound like fair compensation? I didn’t think so, either. But what choice did they have? The Boston Herald reported on Tuesday that Moss’ agent asked the Patriots to trade him after their week one win over the Bengals. That makes perfect sense when you consider his infamous post-game rant following that win.
The writing has been on the wall. Moss has made it clear that he doesn’t feel wanted in Foxboro and wasn’t going to until he received a contract extension. New England never had the intention of re-signing him. Therefore, he was never going to feel wanted. One thing you don’t want on your roster is a Randy Moss who doesn’t feel appreciated because if that’s the case, he’s not going to show up every Sunday.
Moss has worn out his welcome in New England the same way he did in Minnesota and Oakland. The Raiders traded him to the Patriots in 2007 for a fourth-round pick. At the time, we chalked that up to another insane Al Davis transaction. In reality, the Raiders probably couldn’t have gotten a whole lot more and neither could the Patriots. When teams know you can’t keep a player because he’s becoming a cancer in your locker room, you lose any bargaining power you may have had. You take what you can get for the player and move along.
When the Patriots demolished the Dolphins on Monday night they did it despite Moss not recording a single catch. Anyone would be naive to think he didn’t open things up for the other receivers, but after the game it didn’t appear that thought was enough to satisfy 81. While all of his teammates celebrated and acted like they had just won their biggest game in three years, Moss seemed unmoved. His team won and won big, but it wasn’t enough for him without catching a pass.
You may not know it from listening to fan reaction thus far, but the Patriots still have 12 games to play. The trade certainly isn’t going to make them Super Bowl favorites, but they weren’t to begin with. New England has accumulated two picks in each of the first four rounds in the 2011 draft. With the Patriots already having drafted an unthinkable amount of players over the past few years — players like Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Patrick Chung, Jerod Mayo, Brandon Spikes, Devin McCourty, and Brandon Tate among others — they can afford to trade away some draft picks if needed. The same Patriot fans who are on suicide watch at the moment seem to forget how New England wheeled-and-dealed on draft day three years ago to bring in a couple of guys by the names of Moss and Welker.
If you’re a Patriots fan who expected to win a Super Bowl this year, I can understand your being upset. However, your expectations were probably too high to begin with. New England has an extremely young defense that has shown explosiveness at times but needs to develop if they want to be a contender. If the defense can make the right strides and Tom Brady can get back to his favorite receiver being the open one, the Patriots might be able to revert to their old ways.
New England will have to adjust to a slightly new offensive system without the deep threat that is Randy Moss. They must feel that they can successfully do that and Brady must have developed enough of a chemistry with Hernandez, Gronkowski, and Tate for the team to feel comfortable moving forward without Moss.
I know nobody wants to hear wait until next year, but I think that’s going to become the case with New England in 2010. The past couple years, they’ve been loaded with draft picks and decided to use most of them. They’re running out of room to put rookies and sophomores on their team. Don’t be surprised if the 2011 draft comes around and the Patriots improve their defense the same way they improved their offense prior to the 2007 season. If they can successfully do that and Brady gets back to spreading the ball around without having to force it to someone to keep them happy, the Patriots have a shot at looking like the team that dominated the NFL earlier this decade.
As for the Vikings, we’ll just have to wait and see how Old Man Brett holds up. If he can’t successfully get the ball to Moss and keep him content, we’ll be doing it all over again very, very shortly.Google+