First Roosevelt Colvin is released. Then Asante Samuel left. Then Randall Gay. Then Dante Stallworth.
The Pats had only signed TJ Slaughter, who was out of football last year. Who else were the Patriots talking to, Jason Webster? Forgive me if that did not inspire me to make plans for Super Bowl XLIII.
The Patriots were losing players left and right, and were not rumored to be pursuing any of the remaining top free agents. Randy Moss had not been franchised, and could be gone at any given second. Every time I clicked over to ESPN News, I cringed, fearing that I would see “Randy Moss signs with Vikings” or “Randy Moss signs with Dallas”.
Rumors were coming out. Randy was staying, Randy was leaving, they were in serious talks, there had been only minimal talks.
Then it happened. Randy Moss signed with the Pats for 3 years, $27 million dollars ($15 million guaranteed), and all was OK with the world again. By NFL standards, this is a very reasonable deal. Hell, on the first day of free agency, Bernard Berrian signed a six-year, $42 Million contract with the Vikings with $16 Million in guaranteed money.
The Pats may have lost a somewhat valuable player in Donte Stallworth, but the man they had to have back is back. Stallworth is replaceable; Moss would not have been.
Tom Brady must be smiling ear to ear right now. We all know he was upset when Deion Branch was traded. This is Randy frickin' Moss. The Pats receivers went from a possible weak link to a strength with one stroke of Randy Moss’ pen.
Chad Jackson, if healthy, should be able to take over for Stallworth. With the signing of special teams demon Sam Aiken, Kelley Washington should be able to contribute on offense next year (he had 0 catches in ’07, but was a force on special teams).
Jabar Gaffney may or may not return, but as long as Brady, Moss, and Welker are on the field, the Pats will be a tough offense to handle. With the late season emergence of Laurence Maroney, the Pats offense may be more balanced next season, even if they fail to break records the way they did in '07.
Let’s not forget what I think is being somewhat overlooked by the national media: the fact that Randy Moss, by several accounts, turned down a more lucrative offer from the Eagles to stay in New England.
This is two years in a row Randy Moss showed that when he says it is not all about the money, he means it. If Brett Favre had done this, ESPN would be building a statue of Favre in Bristol, CT right now. Moss does it, and it is a blip on the radar screen.
The Pats still have holes, there is no doubt about it. The linebackers are old, and the loss of Colvin, who missed a portion of 2007, will hurt them going forward. Most of the top defensive backs (Samuel, Marcus Trufant, Nnamdi Asomugha, Ken Hamlin, Gibril Wilson, Madieu Williams, Drayton Florence, Randall Gay, Jacques Reeves) available have signed elsewhere, or have been franchised.
New England can do it, though. They have won with Tyronne Poole, Earthwind Moreland, and Troy Brown on defense. in the past.
The signing of Moss will allow the Pats to stay with the offense that did so much damage last season, and will allow Bill Belichick and Scott Pioli to focus on the defense, which will need help in many areas. Look for them to do just that in the upcoming weeks, and in the April draft.