Brady deserves a tip of the cap
He altered contract so Moss can fit in
Quarterback Tom Brady has yet to publicly comment on the Patriots' acquisition of receiver Randy Moss, but his actions speak volumes.
As part of the whirlwind process that brought Moss to New England, Brady provided a key assist.
Because the Patriots had to acquire the original terms of Moss's contract as part of the trade with the Raiders, the team needed to clear salary cap space to absorb the $9.75 million figure that Moss was scheduled to earn.
Enter Brady, who agreed to restructure his present contract that runs through 2010 to create the space.
That allowed the Patriots to finalize the trade for Moss, who then tore up his old contract and signed a one-year, $3 million deal that could be worth up to $5 million in incentives.
"Tom does what he can in order to win," said Don Yee, his agent.
Brady's involvement with the Moss discussions was just one of the layers to a beat-the-clock process that began when the Patriots received permission from the Raiders to speak with Moss late Saturday night after the first three rounds of the draft.
At that point, Moss still had to fly to New England to take a physical and meet with team officials, all before the second day of the draft began at 11 a.m. Sunday.
While quarterbacks and receivers often talk about being on the same page on the field, Brady's actions have helped him get off to a strong start with Moss off the field.
"I've always been a big fan of Tom Brady," Moss said Sunday. "From the time that he took over the starting job from Drew Bledsoe, I knew that was a blessing [for] Tom.
"I saw him play a little bit in college and then by him coming in and taking grasp of being the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots and winning three Super Bowls, I think that was just something that, as a fan of the game, that I always paid attention to."
The addition of Moss highlights a significant overhaul at receiver for the Patriots. After losing Deion Branch and David Givens last season, the Patriots were determined not to be put into the same situation again, and equally as determined to add big-play targets.
Now look at their choices.
The team added Moss, Donte' Stallworth, Wes Welker, and Kelley Washington. They join Reche Caldwell, Jabar Gaffney, Chad Jackson, Bam Childress, Kelvin Kight, and Jonathan Smith, all of whom were with the club at one point or another in 2006.
And, as Bill Belichick has said in the past, there is always a role for the venerable Troy Brown if he's healthy.
Any talk of the Patriots' revamped receiving corps has to start with the 6-foot-4-inch, 210-pound Moss.
"No matter how you slice it, he'll be the guy people will try to take out of the game," said Steve Sidwell, a longtime NFL defensive coordinator. "If they roll their coverage to him that way, or do some kind of a double on him, it will certainly help the other guys."
Belichick has said that Moss understands double coverage as well as any player in the league, and "he attacks all three levels of the field -- short, intermediate, deep."
Belichick also touted Moss's versatility, noting that "any time a player puts multiple pressure points on a defense, it's hard, it's stress."
But Moss isn't the only receiver who has the potential to stress a defense.
Stallworth, who had a 19.1-yard average per catch in 2006, is dangerous with his vertical speed. Meanwhile, Welker is potent out of the slot, finding openings underneath against zone coverage.
If the plan comes to life off the playbook, opposing defensive coordinators are going to have to make some tough choices, assuming those are the top three players on the field.
"The first thing that comes to mind, with all those guys, is that it's hard to double-team somebody," said Jaguars defensive line coach Ray "Sugar Bear" Hamilton, the former Patriot. "Who do you pick? And then you have a guy like Brady, who spreads the ball around. That looks like a pretty good passing attack."
Yet before the Patriots could go anywhere with Moss, they needed a crucial assist. Brady stepped up and delivered it.
Mike Reiss can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org