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Moss trade changes dynamics of Vikes, Pats and NFC North

The trade between the Vikings and Patriots for wide receiver Randy Moss further exemplifies Minnesota's push for a shot at a Super Bowl this season, New England trying to get value for a player it didn't plan on re-signing after the season, and the Patriots' belief that no one player outside of Tom Brady is vital to their success.

I'm not so sure I agree with the latter point, but I'll get back to that later.

The Vikings figured out that they couldn't wait for wide receiver Sidney Rice to get healthy, or contribute much even when he does come back. So they made the bold move and will reap the rewards from this.

Moss will be motivated by revenge and a new contract, and he will be excited to finally play with Brett Favre, who lobbied for Moss while he was still with the Packers. Favre -- and this will show up as soon as Monday night's game with the Jets -- will have some pep in his step, bad ankle or not. He has someone he knows will run through a wall for him -- and catch the ball in the process -- so he's going to figure out a way to make it happen. Adrian Peterson will have more room to run because safeties now have to back off to protect against Moss. His presence alone changes the dynamic.

And not just with the Vikings.

Green Bay, Detroit and Chicago just went back to the drawing board. So did the Patriots, who happen to face Moss and the Vikings on Halloween night in New England. Trick or treat for real.

Without the outside receiving threat, Minnesota was a much easier team to defend. Stop Peterson, get after Favre, redirect Percy Harvin off his route, and dare Favre to throw it to a group of receivers (except for tight end Visanthe Shiancoe) he doesn't have faith in.

Acquiring Moss changes everything. He can run the deep routes, he can catch the fade at the first-down stick or in the end zone, or he can take the hitch and run with it. He's a great player because he's not a one-trick pony. And he is going to love feeling the love from Vikings fans once again.

As for the Patriots, they may think they can win without Moss, as they proved in their 41-14 pasting of Miami on Monday night, in which Moss didn't have a single catch. But he makes life easier for others. We'll see if Bill Belichick knows what he's doing. His reputation speaks for itself, but parting with a game-changing talent mid-stream is a major gamble.

Sure the Pats won Super Bowls earlier this decade with an ordinary receiving crew, but this isn't the same team. Those guys could lock up teams defensively and grind out yards on the ground when needed.


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If it doesn't work this season, maybe the third-rounder they got back for Moss will put them over the top next year.

That Minnesota's focus shifted to Moss off of Chargers holdout Vincent Jackson shows that San Diego's asking price for Jackson remains high -- enough that the Vikings don't think they'd be able to work something out by the Oct. 19 trade deadline. Plus, Minnesota would have to wait two more weeks to get Jackson on the field because of a three-game NFL suspension plus an additional three games because the Chargers placed him on the roster exempt list.

The one intriguing element to all this, at least from Minnesota's perspective, is that it didn't give Moss a contract extension. I was hearing a one-year deal was being discussed, but even that could have caused some consternation among the purple ranks. Defensive end Ray Edwards, linebacker Ben Leber, and Rice -- among several others -- want extensions or re-worked deals, but the team has declined.

Had Moss gotten paid (he still could) and they didn't, the internal grousing could have, ahem, would have, been counter-productive.

Rice, who was Favre's favorite target last season, won't be his favorite target, even if he does return. That means, with few stats to compile in an already injury shortened season, his leverage for a big deal with the Vikings could be marginalized. Think he wishes he had that hip procedure a few months earlier?

While the Vikings-Patriots scenario is all talk at this point, other teams got down to business -- or didn't -- after figuring out more about what they are and what they think they can be.

Seattle didn't abandon previous failed attempts to pry running back Marshawn Lynch and finally coaxed the winless Bills to part with a starter who isn't helping them win in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick that could help them in the rebuilding process.

The Seahawks, at 2-2, realize they could actually get into the postseason in the woeful NFC West and that adding a talent like Lynch could help right away. At age 24 and with two years left on his contract after this season, Seattle also can get an economical audition to see if Lynch is a guy they can move forward with should he prove himself worthy.

Meanwhile, other teams are sticking to their longstanding policies of nurturing and coaching up the guys they have on the roster and adjusting schematically or otherwise to compensate of weak points.

Green Bay is in need of a running back, but they didn't ante up an offer to trump Seattle for Lynch -- it probably would have been a third-round pick because the Packers figure to finish ahead of the Seahawks and their fourth-round pick would have lesser value than Seattle's. So they'll continue to roll with Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn and Dimitri Nance and hope that offseason standout James Starks can give them a little something when he comes off the physically unable to perform list with a hamstring injury.

They also could kick the tires on Julius Jones, who Seattle ditched to make room for Lynch.

The Colts are probably keeping their eyes on strong safeties since they're down two (Bob Sanders and Melvin Bullitt), but they rarely panic when it comes to adding personnel. Philosophically, they're all about the next man up. Anthony Gonzalez down, Austin Collie up; Sanders down, Bullitt up.

Zero tolerance

The Carolina Panthers may be a mess right now, but that won't change the way they do business. They cut wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett less than a day after he was arrested for a DWI in suburban Charlotte. It was Jarrett's second arrest on drunk driving charges in three years, and I'm sure his repeat slip-ups didn't help his cause. Neither did the fact that he hasn't done much in his career there after being selected in the second-round out of USC in 2007.


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This isn't an instance of easy justice or living by a double standard, because Jarrett hadn't done much in his career.

The Panthers suspended wide receiver Steve Smith -- their best player -- without pay two seasons ago after he punched teammate Ken Lucas in the face during practice. Like now, they didn't wait for the NFL or any other processes to play out.

And don't go singling out the Jets for being light on wideout Braylon Edwards, who was allowed to play after recently being arrested on drunk driving charges. That was his first time. This was Jarrett's second.

Booting Jarrett leaves Carolina with only rookie wide receivers and David Clowney, who was claimed off waivers from the Jets, for Sunday's game with the Bears, because Smith (sprained ankle) likely isn't going to play. Not that Jarrett would have helped them much. But with the potential for things to go further south with more losing on tap, coach John Fox and management reinforced their priorities.

To that note, wherever Fox coaches next -- he's in the last year of his contract with the Panthers -- ownership knows they're getting a guy who's high on accountability.

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