One minute after midnight, Randy Moss officially became a former member of the New England Patriots. It will be his choice, of course, whether or not he wants to return for a second season with the Patriots.
New England, parties to four of the past seven Super Bowls, would be dramatically diminished without the receiver, who in 2007 made 98 receptions and scored 23 touchdowns. Neither the club nor Moss is saying what their intentions are, but the team and the player are understood to have reached a verbal agreement that would allow Moss to remain in New England.
Because of a technicality, the Patriots have not been able to detail their deal with Moss.
After acquiring Moss from Oakland in a fourth round draft choice before the 2007 season, the Patriots restructured his contract to a one-year arrangement. A stipulation to that contract noted that it could not be rearranged until the NFL's free agency signing procedure began.
One factor that could hinder how Moss is rewarded next season is his age; he is 31. This added to the fact that the Patriots are only about $5 million under the $117 million salary cap.
But it is easy for teams to work within the cap. They simply load players' rewards into signing bonuses, which for cap purposes can be paid throughout the length of a contract.
The Patriots likely won't find it overly difficult to come up with $20 million in guaranteed money for Moss.
After Moss, there are no other real impact wide receivers, so some teams may make a push to sign the often troubled wide out.