The experts’ consensus on the reported forthcoming trade of wide receiver/deluxe model asshole Randy Moss from the Minnesota Vikings to the Oakland Raiders appears to hold that the Raiders are getting the better part of the deal. In fact, in listening to Sirius NFL Radio, watching ESPN and reading the various online football sites, I’ve encountered no one who believes the Raiders are making a mistake and a solid few who believe the Vikings have fucked up royally. I beg to differ.
Let’s, for a second or two, pretend Moss has no baggage (which is so far from the truth it borders on the absurd even to entertain it as a hypothetical, but still …). Let’s look at this situation as if the Raiders were simply trading an underperforming linebacker (Napoleon Harris) and the seventh overall pick in a rather shallow draft (and, you know, a throwaway seventh round pick, which doesn’t matter anyhow), for a guy who’s arguably the most talented wide receiver in the league. That might look good on paper, but it isn’t.
The Raiders are a team that has something to the tune of $8 million in dead money under the salary cap. That is, while most teams in the league have $85 million to spend on player salaries for next season, the Raiders have only $77 million (because of stupid spending moves of the past). That’s 9.4 percent of their total cap allotment being spent on nothing. They’re also a team that just last week signed their number one wideout, Jerry Porter, to a new contract. They’ve also got some talented receivers behind Porter. And now they’ve got Moss, at something like $7.25 million a year. And, yeah, Moss is a great player, but you can’t go spending all your money on receivers, particularly when you have huge problems on your offensive line, Kerry Collins (who’s got an amazing talent for finding the open DB in any passing situation) throwing the ball, no wideouts to speak of, and a secondary that’s falling apart and that features one of the all-time great underachievers in the league in Charles Woodson (who, one can only hope, will be traded sometime between now and September). Even under the best of circumstances, this team could have done better with it’s money and its first-round pick than Moss.
The Vikings, meanwhile, (and remember, we’re pretending they didn’t just dump off a disruptive force that has hurt the team more than helped it in recent years), now have two first-round picks, one of which they can deal if they choose, a linebacker who isn’t great but who is good enough to start and can help them make the switch to the 3-4 defense, and piles and piles of money under the cap, because outgoing owner Red McCombs has been one of the cheapest in the league. If new owner Reggie Fowler plans to spend anywhere close to the cap, the Vikes can be a major force in free agency. And with receivers like Plaxico Burress (who they won’t touch, because why replace one personality problem with another), Derrick Mason and Muhsin Muhammad available on the free agent market, they can easily find someone to help Nate Burleson (who was fantastic while Moss was out injured part of last season) at the receiver position. Or they could trade for a Laveranues Coles. Or they could pick up a receiver in the draft. They’ll be OK at that position one way or the other. And they’ve still got more running backs than they know what to do with, a terrific pass-catching tight end, and a pretty solid O line. So after dealing with the gap at receiver, they can concentrate on fixing their defensive issues. I think Minnesota, if it makes the right moves going forward, should be in pretty good position to go 11-5 or 12-4 next season, which should give them the NFC North and quite possibly a home game in the playoffs.
The Raiders, it would appear, believe they can succeed with a long-ball offense. They’re wrong. This ain’t the AFL, and hasn’t been for some four decades. You also can’t succeed in the NFL these days by sinking all your money and resources into your offense. Just ask the Indianapolis Colts. The reality of NFL (and especially AFC) football right now is that if you’re gonna win championships, you’ve gotta find a way to get past New England (and probably Pittsburgh and the New York Jets, and maybe Baltimore, next season) and you’re not gonna do that by putting all your dough into wideouts.
So you almost can forget about the fact that Moss is a shithead, a guy who cares about himself and not the game, his team, or winning, because this wouldn’t be a good trade even if he weren’t. But the fact is, he is a problem. He’s a problem on the field and off. He’s a problem in the locker room and a problem on the street. And all his talent isn’t going to fix that. So unless Norv Turner has some kind of magic formula for turning Randy Moss into a committed professional and team player (’cause I guarantee you, all Al Davis sees is raw talent and the potential to put asses in seats — which is all Al, God bless him, ever sees), the guy is gonna continue to be more of a headache than any level of talent is worth.
And, not that it matters, but just a theory for those who can’t understand why the Vikings were willing to make this trade now, when the draft is still months away and when Reggie Fowler, who will be taking over the team soon, has publicly stated he’s not interested in trading Moss. Why, I’ve heard guys ask on NFL Radio, is Red McCombs making this move when he’s getting rid of the team? Why saddle Fowler with the repercussions of a move he’s said he wouldn’t make? My thought is this: Fowler knows as well as anyone that Moss is bad for the Vikings and has to go, but no one (except Jerry Jones) wants to start his term of ownership by making a move that has the potential to create a fan backlash. If by some chance the Vikings fortunes should slip, and the Raiders get some great play out of Moss, the fans in Minnesota likely would never forgive Fowler, making his term of ownership difficult to say the least. So he and McCombs make an agreement: Fowler tells the press he doesn’t wanna trade Moss, then McCombs goes ahead and makes the trade. Fowler gets what he needs for his team and McCombs, who’s getting out anyhow, takes the blame along with his $379 million in profits from the sale of the team. Everyone wins. Except, of course, for the Raiders, who, let’s face it, have once again made their own damned bed.