The word out of Minnesota is that the Vikings might be ready to part ways with Randy Moss, their never-a-dull-moment wide receiver. Some people in the organization, important people, are “exasperated with him,” my friend Kevin Seifert wrote in the Minneapolis Star Tribune earlier this week. “At the very least, they plan to initiate a substantive internal discussion about Moss and his future with the franchise this offseason.”
It’s hard to read that sentence without a picture of Moss in a Redskins uniform popping into your head. I mean, think about it: If the pre-eminent pass catcher in the NFL became available, could Dan Snyder possibly resist taking a run at him?
I doubt it.
Snyder has kind of gone underground since hiring Joe Gibbs, but he’s still the same acquisitive fellow he’s always been. He spent up a storm last offseason, assembling a record-breaking $112 million roster, and he’s prepared to open his wallet again this year, according to Gibbs. Besides, Dan the Man has always had a weakness for the Big Splash (see Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith et al.), and trading for Moss would be, well, the Cannonball to End All Cannonballs.
Remember back in 2000, when Snyder was in the market for a wideout but got outmaneuvered by the Cowboys for Joey Galloway? Something tells me he’d never let that happen again. Whatever he had to do to get Moss, he’d do — even give Randy half the proceeds from obstructed-view seats.
This is purely speculation, mind you, but the timing might be right for Moss to leave Minnesota. His early exit from the last regular-season game against the Redskins followed by his end zone gyrations in the playoff game at Green Bay may finally have convinced his employers that, for all his talent, he’s just too much trouble. The 49ers came to the same conclusion a year ago about Terrell Owens, which is why he’s now a Philadelphia Eagle.
Also, third-year man Nate Burleson has emerged as a possible successor to Moss. Coach Mike Tice says Burleson would be “a playmaker on anybody’s team. The excitement, the great blocking … it’s a wonderful thing to have.” The Vikes could opt to go with the younger guy and trade Moss for some draft picks and perhaps a player who would help them shore up their sorry defense.
So imagine, if you will, this scenario: The Vikings send Moss to the Redskins for their No. 1 pick (ninth overall), a No. 2 (either this year or next) and LaVar Arrington (without whom the Washington defense did just fine this season, ranking third in the league).
It would be similar to the Champ Bailey-for-Clinton Portis trade. The Redskins would be swapping a Pro Bowl defensive player for a Pro Bowl offensive player — one big contract for another — and also mortgaging some of their future.
The trick would be to make the numbers work. The Redskins would be hit with a huge cap charge if they traded Arrington so early in his deal, but they could alleviate some of it by releasing Mark Brunell, their grossly overpaid backup quarterback. Fitting in Moss’ salary would be less problematic. He’s due to make $7.25 million next season, but the Redskins could guarantee the money and reduce his cap number to about $1.8 million.
I can just hear Snyder pitching the idea to Gibbs: “Look at the impact T.O. had in Philadelphia, Joe! Not only would Moss score touchdowns for us, he’d help Laveranues Coles and Chris Cooley get open and give Clinton Portis more room to run. He’d make all our offensive problems go away.”
And I can picture Coach Joe thinking: I can change him. He’s a basically good kid; he just needs a little direction.
Randy Moss coming to the Redskins would be like Jaromir Jagr coming to the Capitals. He would giveth, but he would also taketh away … in equal measure, at least. Gibbs talks about finding the right players to build around — True Redskins — but Moss, as is obvious from his many missteps over the years, has no allegiance except to himself. With his constant complaints about the playcalling and his half-hearted attempts at blocking, he’s the very antithesis of the Gibbs ideal.
And if he could find a way to be unhappy in Minnesota, where he scored 90 touchdowns in seven seasons, he could certainly find a way to be unhappy in Washington, where the leading receiver scored only one TD in 16 games this year. Like most serial screw-ups, he’d be on his best behavior with the Redskins until he wasn’t — and then, heaven help them.
Should Moss get put on the block by the Vikings, it will be a real test for Snyder and Gibbs — for the owner to show he has learned from his mistakes, and for the coach to show he really is in it for the long haul. But desperate teams do desperate things. They’ll even trade for players with more baggage than a 767 — if they’re good enough.