Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Can Randy Moss be a Cancer by Succeeding?

When the Patriots signed Randy Moss, I thought it was genius. Evil genius, mind you, but genius nonetheless. The stock for Randy Moss was a bargain, trading at an all-time low. I figured he might not be what he was in Minnesota, but he couldn't possibly play the way he did in Oakland and see the field.

Have some of this, Oakland Randy! Damn, what stinks around here!
Have some of this, Oakland Randy!

He'd be relegated to the bench, then released, only to be signed by a loser franchise and fade into oblivion in offensive purgatory... somewhere like Baltimore. It's where Oakland would fit the bill if they hadn't already had him. Then again, it might be just like Oakland to go and re-sign him anyway.

Just win baby!

After all, the Patriots were a first down (or 2 Rece Caldwell drops) away from a Super Bowl berth in 2006. And that was with a bunch of misfits at WR... although Jabar Gaffney could be excused from that lot (and he did save their bacon this year against Baltimore). The roll of the dice wasn't whether he had talent, it was whether he could be assimilated. And there is no better franchise at assimilating players than the Patriots. I figured if the cancer could be avoided, they would be the team to pull it off.

And as a Colts fan, I feared Moss could be the difference in the AFC, as homefield advantage would be almost assured in their weak division. I cursed Oakland for shipping him to a contender, although not nearly with the same venom to which I cursed the Dolphins for dealing Wes Welker for a pack of gum (to a team in their division no less!) Hapless.

My worst fears realized, he exceeds all expectations.
Consider that by all accounts, the Patriots are a pass-first / pass-always team. Then look at Moss' TDs compared to the team:

46% of Brady's TDs were to Moss!

As Mike Tyson would say... ludicrisp! He breaks the single-season receiving TD mark by one, albeit in more games than Rice (just like Brady needed 81 more attempts than Manning... I know, I know... count rings).

Of course, you can't understate the importance of Wes Welker... he's the perfect foil to Moss. When teams take away the stinky bomb, Welker will gash them all day long. It's death by a thousand papercuts, but it's still death. But the scoring clearly goes through Moss.

Moss' season was so bountiful that his market value may exceed what the Patriots are willing to pay. Are 46% of your TD passes worth top WR money? I think so, but the Patriots have shown... shall we say "reluctance" to pay top dollar to unrestricted free agents not named Tom Brady. So, will they re-sign him at market value or let him go? Can they get him to come back for less and play for a winner? Is winning enough for Randy Moss? They've avoided the on-field and locker room cancers, but what about a front-office cancer?

Whereas the Patriots have greatly succeeded in getting Moss to toe the company line, they are now faced with the prospect of having to pay big money and declare that all players are equal, but some players are more equal than others. How fitting that an allegory of Soviet totalitarianism can be used when discussing the Patriots.

For what it's worth, I think he signs below market value.

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