2012 NFL Free Agents: The 5 Best Fits for Randy Moss

Sam QuinnContributor IIIFebruary 29, 2012

2012 NFL Free Agents: The 5 Best Fits for Randy Moss

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    Perhaps the most talented player in NFL history is on the market. And he'll barely cost you the veteran's minimum!

    At age 35, Randy Moss obviously isn't the player he once was, but, according to former teammate Chris Carter, he still has most of his world class speed. Combine that with his unbelievable leaping ability and, at the very least, Moss can still stretch the field. 

    But signing Moss isn't without its risks.

    When his team is winning Moss is happy, but, once things start to turn, he's shown that he can be a high maintenance distraction. So teams looking to sign the seven-time pro-bowler need to be sure that they have a strong veteran presence and are ready to compete for the super bowl right now.

    If not, prepare to have your team caterer yelled at.

    Without further ado, here are the five best fits for Randy Moss.

No. 5: San Francisco 49ers

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    If the Niners had even a single above-average receiver, they likely would have won the NFC championship game.

    Blame Alex Smith all you want, but throwing to Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams on a muddy field with the brutal New York Giants front-four breathing down your neck isn't exactly easy. At the end of the day, the conservative approach that took them so far ended up costing the 49ers a potential championship.

    Randy Moss represents a unique opportunity to San Fran.

    Given their dedication to defense, and the running game (not to mention Alex Smith's upcoming extension), they simply cannot afford to go after a high-priced receiver like Mike Wallace or Marques Colston.

    Moss can give them the deep-threat they need at a bargain rate. The atmosphere created by first year head coach Jim Harbaugh has earned him the respect of his players, so, even at his most toxic, Moss likely couldn't hurt this locker room too much.

    There is a risk here, though—Moss tends to get lazy when he isn't catching balls from an elite quarterback.

    Two years of his prime were wasted in Oakland thanks to the dynamic duo of Aaron Brooks and Kerry Collins. As effective as Alex Smith was last year, he simply isn't Tom Brady. The amount of faith Moss is willing to place in Smith will ultimately determine whether or not he wants to be a 49er. 

No. 4: New Orleans Saints

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    The last time we counted Randy Moss out, he teamed up with an extremely innovative coaching staff and a hall-of-fame quarterback to set the world on fire.

    We've seen what Sean Payton and Drew Brees can do with late-round picks like Marques Colston and Lance Moore—imagine the possibilities with Moss. Combine that with the Superdome's turf, and you have the recipe for something special.

    You're probably wondering why the Saints would even bother with Moss.

    Well in case you hadn't heard, a good portion of their offense will hit the market in March.

    Brees, Colston, former first-rounder Robert Meachem and all-pro Carl Nicks will all command big contracts. Brees will obviously be the first priority, likely followed by Nicks with the two receivers a distant third. Why bother paying them when you still have Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles, Lance Moore and Devery Henderson?

    Even if they manage to bring one of their two free agent receivers back, Payton's tendency to spread the ball around would mean they're likely looking for another receiver.

    Given their tight cap situation, they won't be able to do any better than Moss.

    When you combine their receiver friendly home field, and the dynamic offense already in place, Moss could make the Saints even more unstoppable than they already are. 

No. 3: New York Jets

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    The New York Jets are no strangers to superstars and Mike Tannenbaum seems to believe that bringing in the biggest names possible is the only way to build a super bowl team.

    Obviously, it hasn't worked out so far, and given the implosion of their locker room and Raider-esque cap situation, you'd think they'd abandon this approach.

    As a lifelong Jets fan, I can assure you that this will not happen.

    Rex Ryan and Tannenbaum are going to want to take attention away from the Super Bowl champion Giants. While this is not the way you want the people running your favorite team to think, it does lead to exciting offseasons

    Moss wouldn't just be a sideshow attraction in New York, though.

    Plaxico Burress is leaving, and without Braylon Edwards, the Jets lack anything resembling a deep threat. If Rex is really serious about getting back to the ground-and-pound, he's going to need someone to keep the safeties out of the box. If nothing else, Moss can do that. 

    People forget that, before the disaster that was last year, the Jets were a legitimate title contender, and the core of that roster is still in place. With a few tweaks, their defense will be back at the top of the league.

    That does leave one major concern: Mark Sanchez.

    Statistically, Sanchez has been one of the league's worst quarterbacks since he's been in the league. I find it hard to believe that Moss would have much faith in him. If Moss proves me wrong, the Jets should be an early favorite to sign him. 

No. 2: New England Patriots

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    This is what Randy Moss wants. I know it, you know it, and the New England Patriots know it.

    This became apparent when he did everything short of sobbing and begging Bill Belichick to take him back after his return to New England as a Viking. Before the playoffs, this would have been a pipe dream, but the Patriots were exposed against the Ravens and Giants.

    They ran the biggest play of the AFC championship game to the immortal Matthew Slater, and then couldn't close the door on the Giants because of drops by nearly their entire receiving corp.

    Sooner or later teams figure out how to stop you when you can't go deep.

    The Pats could go after a big ticket receiver like Colston or Wallace, but that would likely mean letting Wes Welker walk. If New England wants to bring in the deep threat they need without losing Welker, then their only option may be Moss.

    On paper this move makes sense.

    We all witnessed Chad Ochocinco fail to grasp the complicated New England offense. This isn't the sort of system you can learn overnight.

    Moss knows it, and he's a favorite of new (and old) offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. It is tantalizing to think of what a brilliant offensive mind like McDaniels could do with a unit containing Moss, Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch.

    This move would also allow Bill Belichick to focus all or most of his draft picks (and believe me there are quite a few of them) on fixing his defense.

    If he can swallow his pride and bring back Moss, Belichick would likely make his Pats the prohibitive title favorite. 

No. 1: Baltimore Ravens

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    Randy Moss is likely only going to play one or two more years of football.

    So is Ray Lewis.

    And Ed Reed.

    We are likely looking at Baltimore's last shot at a title, so why not go out with a bang?

    If there's any locker room leader who can handle Moss, it's Ray Lewis. He is the undisputed best leader in the game. Moss may never be a consummate pro like Jerry Rice, but he wouldn't dare defy Ray Lewis. (And honestly, who would?)

    From a locker room perspective, this move makes the most sense.

    And looking at the football side of this only makes it look better.

    Very few current players are faster than Moss, and Baltimore has one of them in rookie Torrey Smith. The two of them running deep routes together would give defensive coaches nightmares. At the very least, it would keep the safeties 30 yards down the field and away from Ray Rice on screens.

    Oh, and let's not forget Anquan Boldin underneath.

    Adding Moss to the Ravens would give them one of the most complete offenses in the league to go along with their elite defense. Defenses could take away the run, but then they'd get burned deep. If they use nickel or dime formations, Rice would run all over them. You'd really just have to pick your poison. 

    Joe Flacco might cause some of the same concerns as Sanchez and Smith, but he does have a few things going for him.

    First of all, while nobody would call him elite, nobody would call Flacco terrible, either. You know what you're getting out of him—he's at least a league average quarterback.

    Second, he's never had an elite receiver. If Moss is at the top of his game, he'd give Flacco the best weapon he's ever had.

    Finally, there's no brewing quarterback controversy. Flacco is the Ravens' quarterback. His teammates aren't clamoring for Peyton Manning, they didn't use a high pick on his replacement last year—he will be the guy.

    Put all of that together, and you have the perfect fit for Moss.