|Randy Moss had 28 catches for 393 yards and five TDs in 2010 for the Pats, Vikings and Titans. (Getty Images)|
Randy Moss was putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career when he decided to talk to the media about his contract while in the employment of the New England Patriots. The next thing he knew, he was a Minnesota Viking. A few weeks later, after stirring up problems in the player dining room, he was gone and a member of the Tennessee Titans.
That was 2010, and it wasn't exactly the storybook ending most Hall of Famers look for. In fact, over the course of that season Moss managed to catch only 28 balls combined from Tom Brady, Brett Favre and Kerry Collins. Not a single team seriously inquired about his services in 2011, and it looked like his career was over. He announced his retirement in July, mostly to save face. But understandably, he now wants to return to the NFL at the ripe old age of 35.
Is it a good idea? Is it realistic?
It is getting tougher and tougher for wide receivers to get into the Hall with the acceleration of the passing game. Plus, some believe character issues and strained relations between the media and some of the top receivers during their playing days might play a factor as well. This year, three receivers were finalists but didn't make the cut. I looked at their production at 35 and asked myself the question: Is it too late for Moss? All three listed below had gas left in their tank in varying degrees. If Moss could deliver at least as much as Andre Reed it might be worth considering him. If he could come close to Tim Brown or Cris Carter it's a no brainer. This is what those players were doing on the field at 35:
|Wide receivers at 35|
|How three 2012 Hall of Fame finalists fared|
|Tim Brown||2001||16||91||1,165||9||Had 157-1,697-5 in three more years|
|Cris Carter||2000||16||96||1,274||9||A year later, was 73-871-6 in 16 starts|
|Andre Reed||1999||16||52||536||1||Next season, was 10-103-1|
I signed Art Monk when he was 37 years old and he started 15 games, catching 46 passes for 581 yards and three touchdowns. He won a big game for us in overtime with two critical receptions and was a tremendous influence on all our young players.
Jerry Rice started 110 games after his 35th birthday and caught 499 passes and 43 touchdowns during his "golden years." If Moss could be the positive influence Monk was or last as long as Rice, he would be a bonus for any team. But Moss doesn't always deliver a positive vibe like Monk did (just ask the Vikings), and no one will ever match the work ethic and drive displayed by Rice to last as long as he did. Rumors that Moss can run 4.3 40-yard dash may be a little exaggerated.
Moss turning 35 isn't the real issue when you consider how many quality receivers have been productive at 35. But when you consider he has been away from the game for more than a year, any team signing him has a number of issues to resolve.
• Does he still have a great level of fitness?
• Will he break down when the workouts start to heat up?
• Will he sign a contract that puts no risk on the club and places all of it on him?
• Can he grow old with dignity and handle the role as a backup or situational player?
• What kind of influence will he have on the young players?
• Will a young receiver's growth and development be retarded by his presence?
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These are all questions that need to be asked and answered before a team considers how to handle the idea of signing Randy Moss.
The first issue is identifying his physical status, and that means an intense workout. Star veteran players like Moss rarely agree to a workout of any magnitude before signing. But when I brought in Monk he agreed to every request and ran a 4.47 in the rain. Moss will have to bring a similar mindset to the process.
Bill Belichick is famous for putting young draftables through a comprehensive workout, but veterans are a different story. In Moss' case I would make fatigue a part of the equation and put him through a tough workout. After an hour on the field, I would put him in a hotel for the night and bring him back the next day for another workout to measure his recovery rate and see if he could stand up to the rigors of summer camp and double sessions.
If Moss got over the fitness hurdle, then we would have to talk about his contract. My idea of the way to handle him financially would be to offer maybe 20 percent over the veteran minimum with no guarantees and no signing bonus but enough incentives on the back end of the deal that would pay him as much as $6 million if he could deliver like Carter or Brown did when they were 35. I would also need a clause included in the contract that would allow me to cut him before the season without any financial obligations. If he balks at the idea of that kind of deal, then we say goodbye before we go any further.
Next, I would insist on him being in and around the facility every day the players are legally permitted to be on the premises. If he slacked off in this area I would release him before summer camp even began.
The next issue would be team-related. My captains and older veterans would sit with him and make sure he understood how things operate in our locker room. If any of them got the feeling Randy wasn't going to be a positive influence on younger players, or didn't feel "right" about him being there, then the deal would be off. If they felt good about him being on the roster, then he would be given the opportunity to sign the contract we agreed upon.
So in the end, do I think Randy Moss will get some interest? I do. But there is a long way to go before he's on an NFL roster for opening day of the 2012 season.