Last time I started a free agency preview on a few quarterback moves that could and probably should happen when the opportunity arises to make said moves. Up next in my series that is helping me keep churning out NFL content when there isn’t a lot of concrete stuff to write about is the Wide Receiver position and some players who are experiencing uncertain futures. There are several other receivers but these are the ones that I thought of.
2010 Team: Patriots, traded to Vikings, cut, claimed by Titans. (Translation: take your pick)
At age 33, Randy Moss looked like he was getting ready to have an all-time great season in 2010 as he would most likely be playing for one last, big contract. During his last contract year in 2007 with the Patriots, Moss only managed to set the record for touchdown catches in a season with 23. Not bad considering he arrived with the Patriots in a draft day trade and missed most of preseason with a hamstring problem. This lead to the 3 year, $27m contract he signed that offseason that would expire after 2010.
Before the 2010 season, Moss like most players probably thought about all the different ways the season would turn out. Would he make the playoffs & if so make a deep run to the Super Bowl again? Will he catch 70+ passes, get over 1000 yards & 10 touchdowns? Will he stay healthy? Will he get the new, big money contract he wanted? All of those questions were valid to ask and of the many different outcomes he imagined late at night, what happened in real life was impossible to dream of before it actually happened.
After a season opening win against Cincinnati, Moss launched a bizarre tirade in his post game interview where he reminded everyone involved that he wanted a new contract now that Tom Brady had gotten his. That strategy of forcing the Patriots hand did not work and after a week 4, Monday Night win against the Dolphins, the Patriots started discussions with the Minnesota Vikings about a potential trade, bringing Moss back to the team that drafted him. The story was broken inadvertently by ESPN’s Bill Simmons on Twitter leading to a media frenzy. The next day the rumours were confirmed and Randy Moss was a Minnesota Vikings player. After four ill fated starts and 13 catches, Moss was cut November 1 in a him-or-me rift with then-coach Brad Childress (who would end up being fired 3 weeks later). The Tennessee Titans were the only team to make a waiver claim on him despite rumours of several teams being interested (including the Patriots). Moss’s time with the Titans was incredibly uneventful as he appeared to be content to sit out the season and occasionally get on the field. In the end Moss posted career lows in catches, yards and touchdowns but a career high in number of teams played for in one season and an unrestricted free agent going into this offseason.
My Pick: St Louis Rams
The link between Moss and the Rams may seem strange at first considering the Rams are seen by many as a young team on the rise. Taking on a troubled veteran like Moss could create chemistry issues within the locker room by placing him in the middle of the group of young players the team has assembled. Questions about Moss’s maturity mean that he could fit right in however. What is working in the receiver’s favour though is new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels who held that position with the Patriots in 2007 and 2008. McDaniels was able to find the right ways to get Moss involved in the offense which lead to 167 catches, 2501 yards and 34 TD’s.
On the Rams, Moss would instantly become the best receiver for reigning rookie of the year Sam Bradford. That’s not to say the Rams receivers are awful in any way, what they are is young and raw (and I have high hopes for Donnie Avery but he’s coming off an ACL injury). Combining Moss with Bradford should not only make the Rams passing game a whole lot better but it should help the bellcow of the offense Steven Jackson who for a long time, has been all that defenses have to worry about. Over the course of his career Moss has been both a phenomenal wide receiver & a world class pain in the butt (sometimes both at once). He has many admirers but has burned plenty of those bridges, especially in the last 12 months. Perhaps his best chance at ending his career on a strong note comes from helping out a friend who has revived him once already and a quarterback who could use a big target.
2010 Team: Cincinnati Bengals
Chad Johnson/Chad Ochocinco/Chad Hachi-Go/PePe/Vin Diesel has always had one of the more entertaining personalities in the NFL with his antics often overshadowing his production. His desire to be in the spotlight 24/7 has worked against him on many occasions as well. Since the end of the 2007 season, Chad has been campaigning on and off to leave Cincinnati and it appears that this time he may finally get his wish with owner Mike Brown drafting a player who should be able to take over the top receiver job in A.J. Green. This could be the time for Johnson to finally make his desired move to a playoff contender.
My Pick: Trade to New England Patriots
Having just gotten rid of Randy Moss all of 9 months ago, many would question why the Patriots would give themselves another potential headache in Chad Ochocinco. The big difference between Moss and Ochocinco however is Ochocinco has a history with the Patriots, most notably coach Bill Belichick. Every time the Patriots and Bengals played each other, Ochocinco and Bill Belichick make an effort to talk to each other before and even during the game. In fact, the two get along so well, Ochocinco is one of the few players who can get Bill Belichick to break a smile. Of course getting along with the head coach is not reason enough to move to a team, Ochocinco’s biggest complaint with the Bengals is that they do not win enough and do not make enough effort to change their losing ways. The Patriots are one of the few teams in the league that you can go to and be almost certainly assured of a playoff berth every season.
On the Patriots roster, the wide receiver collection is solid but unspectacular. Leading the line are veterans Wes Welker and Deion Branch, Welker being the best slot receiver in the NFL and Branch being a solid utility and one of Tom Brady’s favourite targets over the course of his career. Next on the depth chart are three young players in Brandon Tate who, with Branch took over for Moss last season on the outside, Taylor Price a second year player who appeared in a week 17 game and Julian Edelman who has been nicknamed “mini-Wes” for his similarity to Welker. Ochocinco would bring a solid outside presence to the team and a deep threat that the opposition has to respect. The biggest positive Ochocinco has over Moss is that he plays every down no matter what and works his hardest to win. The biggest downside to the Patriots acquiring Ochocinco may be his name, as many of you would be aware Ochocinco is named after his jersey number of 85, which is occupied at the moment by tight end Aaron Hernandez… maybe this move wasn’t such a good idea after all.
Steve Smith (NYG)
2010 Team: New York Giants
The Giants version of Steve Smith broke onto the scene as a rookie during the Giants Super Bowl run of January 2008 becoming a reliable target for Eli Manning and peaking with 5 catches for 50 yards in the Super Bowl. His rise up the ranks of Giants targets continued over the next two years and eventually managed to set a franchise record for catches as the Giants number one target in 2009. Injuries derailed his contract year in 2010 severely reducing his value on the open market but when he has been on the field there is plenty to like from this future star.
My Pick: Re-Signs with the Giants
A boring pick perhaps but the most likely option is him sticking with the blue half of New York. He is one of the few receivers that Eli Manning seems to be really in sync with and he also seems comfortable in the spotlight, producing when his team needs him to. His knee injury last season has reduced his value but given what he has put on tape should be enough to get him a deal that will make all parties happy, even if he has to earn some money through incentives.
Braylon Edwards/Santonio Holmes
2010 Team: New York Jets
Two receivers who are never far away from controversy no matter what time of year helped the Jets to another AFC Championship run last season and both are looking for a new deal when the league year restarts. For these two, 2010 was all about proving themselves as legitimate options in the NFL again. Overall they succeeded in that with both exceeding 50 catches, 700 yards and combining for 13 touchdowns with Holmes in particular coming into his own once he was able to play after his suspension.
Edwards was acquired during the 2009 season after a trade from the Cleveland Browns. His time in Cleveland consisted of solid season in 2007 and a series of off field issues since his drafting in 2005. After clashing with various teammates over his career he was viewed by many as not a popular figure in the locker room. Off the field he appears to have issues keeping his car moving below the speed limit and the final straw for the Browns came when he clashed with an associate of then Cleveland Golden Boy LeBron James. Two days after this clash Edwards was shipped to the Jets and he left a parting shot at the city of Cleveland saying he was glad at getting a fresh start.
Santonio Holmes was drafted 25th overall in 2006 by the Pittsburgh Steelers as the number 1 receiver for the future. After an indifferent rookie season Holmes grew into a troubled yet consistent game breaker at the wide-receiver position. On the field he grew into the best receiver on the Steelers roster surpassing Hines Ward as the biggest threat. His career peaked in Super Bowl XLIII against the Cardinals where he made a fingertip catch in the final minute to give Pittsburgh the win. After the 2009 season though, the Steelers decided that enough was enough with players on their team getting into legal trouble constantly. To prove a point to the team and set an example, the Steelers traded their top receiver for a fifth round pick after Holmes became embroiled in yet another legal controversy. Holmes’ first season in New York was shortened thanks to a 4 game suspension from the league but when he did get on the field he certainly showed the flashes of brilliance from his Pittsburgh days including two game winning touchdowns in consecutive weeks.
My Pick: Holmes Stays, Edwards Goes to the Oakland Raiders
The Jets have already said that re-signing Holmes will be their top priority this offseason since he brought so much to the offense while Braylon Edwards will be brought back at the right price. Unfortunately for Edwards his idea of the right price may differ to what the Jets have in mind and he will have to move on. Where that may be is a big question and whoever it is, will have to be willing to put up with a lot of potential headaches. One team who is never willing to shy away from taking on a potential headache is the Oakland Raiders, with a roster made up primarily of young talent at receiver (and Darius Heyward-Bey) the Raiders would appear to be the perfect fit for Edwards and his antics. A couple of years of quiet production on a prove it contract may even lead to Edwards earning another big money deal.
That’s it for this time, hopefully the next article I post will be celebrating a new labour deal.