This is just what the Patriots needed, an extra day to this terrible month.
In an offseason that can at best be classified as tumultuous since the worst choke in franchise history, it’s certainly a tossup as to which Patriots storyline is most in need of going away quickly.
- The ongoing spygate scandal
- The impending loss of Asante Samuel
- The potential loss of Randy Moss
- Kevin Faulk busted for ganja
- Tom Brady set to release his inner Kramer as a Calvin Klein model
It’s been 26 days since the Patriots threw away a chance at football immortality in Arizona. They’ve had nothing but bad vibes ever since. In the span of four hours on Feb. 3, the Patriots went from perfection to a national punchline. The Giants raised Lombardi, Mercury Morris got his due, and Bill Belichick got wrapped in some “Lost” alternate realm of time perception in the final moments of perhaps his most embarrassing moment as a head coach.
Finally, some good news where the team is concerned yesterday, as Tedy Bruschi put the clamps on any more retirement talk by signing a multiyear deal with the Patriots. But while the team couldn’t end the month any better than announcing that Moss has signed a long-term deal, that, so far, has yet to happen, and its delay has some thinking that perhaps his return isn’t the slam dunk everyone once thought.
A deal done behind closed doors has been rumored for the past week now, ever since the team elected not to place the dreaded franchise tag on their star wide receiver. But the reality is, Randy Moss is right now a free agent. Who’s to say that one team won’t come out of the blue with a monumental offer before he puts ink to paper in Foxborough?
The Patriots had to wait until today’s official start of free agency, 12:01 a.m. EST, to sign Moss to a deal due to a technicality in their original deal. As the San Diego Tribune’s Jerry Magee explains, “After acquiring Moss from Oakland for a fourth-round draft choice before the 2007 season, the Patriots restructured his contract to a one-year arrangement. A proviso of that contract was that it could not be rearranged until the NFL's free agency signing procedure began, which it did last night.”
Who knows, maybe Haywood Sullivan is working the front office these days and forgot to include postage due on the papers.
While even a humiliating loss in Super Bowl XLII might not prevent Patriots fans from remaining "chest-proud," let’s not get delusional in the thought that Moss can’t be tempted to go elsewhere. Any perceived allegiance to a team quickly goes away with the phrase, “guaranteed money.”
How badly, for instance, would the Carolina Panthers break the bank for a Steve Smith-Moss combo? One NFL “insider” tells the Charlotte Observer: “Carolina has freed up a lot of cap space with all the guys they've cut recently. Suppose they offer Randy a 6-year, $60 million deal with $25 million guaranteed? Now, if the difference is one or two million, Moss probably gives the Patriots a discount and goes back. But $5 million extra guaranteed? These guys have egos. And he knows that Carolina has been working aggressively to get better. Who's to say he doesn't make the move?”
He certainly wouldn’t be putting himself in an Oakland situation, as Jake Delhomme has proven already how efficiently he can get the ball to Smith. They’re probably still drooling in Dallas over John Czarnecki’s suggestion of a Moss-Terrell Owens-Tony Simpson trio, but that appears to be no more than a Cowboy fantasy.
But the odds are the Patriots understand what the loss of their wide receiver would mean in the long run, and that Moss will remain a Patriot. Of course, odds were too that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl, so…
Elsewhere on the docket, it’s no surprise to see that Samuel is all but gone, the Eagles calling a press conference this afternoon, which could be to announce his signing to cash the Patriots never had any intention of doling out. Free agent Randall Gay could also be on his way out the door, as perhaps the Jets will show a renewed interest in the cornerback. But Kelley Washington is in the fold. Hey, right now he’s your team’s No. 2 wide receiver, and he didn’t even catch a ball the entire season.
The Moss signing is obviously crucial for a team at a crossroads. We all saw what happens when you depend on the Reche Caldwells of the world. How do you think Brady would take it if the Krafts took away the greatest toy they’ve ever given him? Might he eventually tire of the nickel and diming he’s done on his own deals, only to see the team fail to reward him with a long-term deal for Moss? Think about this scenario for a moment: After 2010, when Brady's deal is up, the 49ers might finally realize that Alex Smith isn’t the answer. How tempting might it be for Brady to finish his Hall of Fame career by the Bay for the team he rooted for growing up in San Mateo, Calif.? He'll be just 34 years old at that point, still young enough to potentially add a few more titles to his resume in his own hometown.
All this just from not signing Moss? Please, dude, these are the dynastic New England Patriots. OK, fine. But Foxsports.com’s Jason Whitlock takes it even a step further:
I’m calling it now: If Moss walks for more money, the Pats go 10-6 next season and get eliminated from the playoffs in the first round. Let me take it a step further: If Moss leaves, the Brady-Belichick combination never reaches another Super Bowl.
New England's run has to end at some point. Now is as good a time as any.
Bad luck — a dropped interception and The Circus Reception — separated the Pats from a fourth Super Bowl championship. Fate is beginning to speak on the New England dynasty.
Washington politicians want it to end. They're pushing Spygate II in an attempt to destroy Bill Belichick. Asante Samuel, New England's best defensive athlete, is scheduled to depart via free agency.
There are too many negative forces working against New England right now. Moss' departure would infuriate quarterback Tom Brady and disturb the delicate chemistry that has helped the Pats do more with less.
Brady has never demanded the kind of contract his production and star power warrant. He's bought into the Pats' management philosophy and the belief that his financial sacrifice makes it easier for New England to put together a stronger overall team.
By letting Moss bounce after a record-setting, 23-TD season, the Pats would look cheap rather than savvy.
No dynasty lasts forever. The thought that this one could be coming to a close could be a possibility.