It’s been years since Bill Belichick has been able to call a team and give a low ball offer and get a ready-made star in return. Now, when an executive takes a call from the Patriots and get “I’ll take this guy off your hands for a mere….”, they should immediately hang up and spend the rest of the day figuring out what the hell they are doing wrong. And the trade that was the beginning of the end was the fleecing if the Oakland Raiders in the acquisition of Randy Moss for a fourth-round pick.
But what if the trade was never made? Would the fortunes of both franchise have been forever altered? Could the Oakland Raiders have built championship teams on the legs of one of the best receivers in NFL History? Would the Patriots dynasty have ended with the defensive juggernauts of Tom Brady’s younger years?
Could a motivated Randy Moss have been the key to turning around the storied franchise for the 2007-2010 seasons? No. Not a chance. This team had so many problems, culminating in the power struggle following Al Davis’ death. New head coach Lane Kiffin considered Moss a poor locker room presence and wanted him gone. They took the fourth-round pick and selected John Bowie. Couple that with #1 overall bust of the century JaMarcus Russell, and the world would continue until just recently.
New England’s Fortunes
This was the amazingly record-breaking season, resulting in an MVP for Brady, with records for TD passes thrown and TD passes caught. While the fans did not get to celebrate another championship, it provided lasting memories.
The following seasons saw diminishing returns as Moss played out his contract. He ultimately forced himself out of town by mid season in 2010. Age and motivation seemed to slow down the speedy receiver. Meanwhile the team as a whole was entering what was arguably the toughest stretch of Brady’s career.
Brady has displayed a tendency to focus on favorite targets. At times this can be to the detriment of the offense and the team. With a decline in Moss’ motivation or ability, Tom Brady suffered a decline in numbers for the ‘09 and ‘10 season. Following Moss’ exit from Foxboro, the Patriots reset the offense with the two-tight-end offense in the 2011 season and created a Brady resurgence.
We’ll always have the almost-undefeated season. Randy Moss’ contribution to an amazing year is not in question. However, by the end of his third season, his old ways were starting to cause problems with management. On the field his production was dropping precipitously. The 20 games after the ’07 season only resulted in an average of below 67 yards per game. Even with a season of Matt Cassel as the quarterback, that still isn’t #1 wide-receiver worthy. This was a great chapter in the history of the NFL and a storied franchise. But, ultimately it did not vastly affect either franchises’ fortunes in the long-term.