Minnesota Vikings  

 

Moss' return in trade boosts Vikings' Super Bowl hopes

  • By NFL.com Wire Reports
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Brett Favre finally received his wish. He will play with Randy Moss, and the Minnesota Vikings couldn't be happier about it.

The Super-Bowl-or-bust Vikings acquired Moss from the New England Patriots on Wednesday for two draft picks, another eye-opening acquisition that comes just in time to rejuvenate a stagnant offense for a challenging stretch of games.

The Patriots gave Moss, a six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, the exit he expected and sent him back to the team that turned him into a superstar after drafting him in the first round in 1998.

In Minnesota, there still are plenty of fond memories of Moss's electrifying performances, along with his colorful comments and contrarian behavior.

"He can still go downtown and get the football, which is a stand-alone factor," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "He could sprain his toe here sometime coming up, and you could say that he's 33 -- it's old age. But there's always risk-reward. I don't necessarily see this as boom or bust. I think he's got some more football in him. ... I'm always excited, as they say, to add a good piece to the puzzle."

A league source told NFL Network insider Michael Lombardi that the Patriots received a 2011 third-round pick in exchange for Moss. Lombardi also confirmed that the Patriots will give the Vikings a 2012 seventh-round selection in the deal.

The Vikings play Monday night at New York, and Childress said without hesitation that Moss would be in uniform against the Jets -- in his old purple No. 84.

"Man, we wish this would have happened a week later," Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson said.

The drama will be high around the Twin Cities all month. Check out Minnesota's last two games in October: at rival Green Bay and at New England.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said his dealings with Moss have been "honest, thoughtful and with great mutual respect."

"While I will keep private the details of internal conversations with players and staff, suffice it to say that many things were taken into consideration before making the trade,” Belichick said in a statement released by the team. "In this business, there are complex and often difficult decisions, but it is my responsibility to make them based on what I feel is best for our football team, in both the short term and long term.

"I am grateful for the opportunity to have coached Randy Moss, and, aside from facing him as an opponent, I wish him the very best for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career."

The Vikings didn't practice Wednesday. Moss is expected to join the team Thursday and talk with reporters afterward.

Rather than catching passes from Tom Brady, Moss will be a target for Favre, who desperately needed a downfield threat after Pro Bowl wide receiver Sidney Rice underwent hip surgery in August. Struggling Bernard Berrian hasn't been a factor, and Percy Harvin -- when healthy -- is better suited for the slot position. The Vikings traded for Greg Camarillo from the Miami Dolphins in late August and signed Philadelphia Eagles cast-off Hank Baskett in Week 3, but neither move made the kind of impact that acquiring Moss is expected to make.

"This is an exciting move. I think everybody feels that in the locker room," Favre told the team's official website. "It's rare you get to play with a future Hall of Famer and get to appreciate their talents up close. Randy Moss is a great player, and his career speaks for itself. I've admired him from a distance for a long time, and you can't help but be impressed by the guy."

Moss spent his first seven seasons in Minnesota, where he set all kinds of records and evolved into one of the NFL's most exciting playmakers. He often burned Favre's Packers, racking up 9,142 yards and 90 touchdowns during his time with the Vikings and fueling runs to NFC title-game appearances following the 1998 and 2000 seasons.

Tired of Moss' attitude and wary of a hamstring injury that hampered him in the 2004 season, the Vikings traded the receiver to the Oakland Raiders in 2005. Moss wore out his welcome there, so the Raiders sent him to New England in 2007. Favre was frustrated at the time that Green Bay didn't land Moss; they discussed a trade with Oakland.

Childress denied Wednesday that Favre lobbied for this move. The coach said Vikings owner Zygi Wilf gave his blessing Monday.

"I don't think any of us thought this guy was going to be available ...," Childress said. "It just was a rare opportunity for us to take advantage of a guy that's a potential Hall of Fame player and still has some pretty good tread on the tire.

"He's not a rookie. He's been to handling school. He's played in this league. He gets coverage, he's an extremely smart guy when you watch what he does, and by all accounts, a pretty good student of the game."

The entertaining style of football that Moss brought with him started a string of sellouts at the Metrodome that is still going 13 years later. His jersey still can be seen regularly on the backs of Vikings fans six years after his departure.

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His first stint in Minnesota was, however, anything but smooth.

There was the time Moss bumped a traffic cop with his car in downtown Minneapolis, another when he left the field early from a game in Washington. He repeatedly was fined or admonished for his antics or behavior.

Childress said Moss has a clean slate in Minnesota.

"I'm just satisfied to judge him, not backward, but judge him going forward and what he does with us here," the coach said.

Childress insisted Moss' acquisition isn't a sign that Rice's recovery has slowed. Rice recently said he hopes to be off his crutches next week.

The Vikings began the year with championship aspirations after reaching the NFC title game in January, but they have lost two of their first three games, and Favre's passing game has struggled to get off the ground. The Vikings talked last month about acquiring another disgruntled, talented wide receiver, Vincent Jackson, but the San Diego Chargers chose to keep his rights.

"The problem," Favre said after a Sept. 26 victory over the Detroit Lions, "is it's been a new guy every week, and you say, 'OK, I'm going to play this guy at slot and this guy at flanker,' and then the next week you take the flanker and you move him to slot."

"We've just been missing something, and I think he (Moss) can give us another threat down the field," running back Adrian Peterson said on the team's website.

Moss is in the final season of a three-year, $27 million contract and has said several times that he expected 2010 to be his last season with the Patriots. He didn't have a catch Monday night in the Patriots' 41-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins, the first time since 2006 that he went without a reception.

"When you have done so much and put so much work in, it kind of feels like I am not wanted," Moss, frustrated he hadn't been offered a contract extension, said in September. "I am taking that in stride and playing my final year out and whatever the future holds is what it holds, but it is kind of a bad feeling -- feeling not wanted."

Moss later backtracked from those statements, telling The Associated Press that he hoped to finish his career with the Patriots.

"For me to be 33 years old, it's like I'm held at bay," he said. "If this is my last year here, I want to leave as good as I came in here in '07. I know that's really hard to duplicate, but I don't want the fans, the organization, coaches or my teammates to have a sour taste in their mouths about Randy Moss."

Moss' agent, Joel Segal, said the Vikings haven't contacted him about a long-term deal, so the receiver joins a long list of prominent Vikings in the final year of their contracts, including Rice, Favre, linebackers Ben Leber and Chad Greenway and defensive end Ray Edwards.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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