NFL Free Agency: 10 Possible Destinations for Randy Moss in 2011

Cian Fahey@CianafFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2011

NFL Free Agency: 10 Possible Destinations for Randy Moss in 2011

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    When Randy Moss was released from the Minnesota Vikings last season, 19 teams turned down the chance to sign him.

    Moss had to wait until the Tennessee Titans, the 20th team in the waiver queue, picked him up to become his third team of 2010.

    At 34 years of age, he must now hope that an NFL team will take a chance on signing him once again.

    Such has been the record breaking receivers fall from grace.  He must now find a team in need rather than have his choice of all 32 franchises.

    The former Minnesota Vikings and Oakland Raiders receiver entered last season as one of the best, if not the best, player in the league at his position.  However he quickly became less involved in the New England offense while his frustration at not receiving a contract extension boiled over.

    Moss' attitude eventually made him surplus to requirements in the Patriots' locker room and he was quickly traded to the Minnesota Vikings for a third round draft choice.

    The Vikings subsequently cut him for both his attitude and poor performance.

    It was at this point that the Titans picked him up and Moss became irrelevant, catching only six passes for 80 yards in eight games.

    (Who saw that coming so soon after 2007?)

    Once this lockout comes to an end Moss will become a free agent.  While he does carry some baggage, there are quite a few teams that could take a risk on an aging receiver who is destined for the hall-of-fame.

    Even if he does not have the work rate of Terrell Owens or Jerry Rice, who both continued to play efficiently well past their prime, his talent alone will make these ten teams consider signing him.

10. The New England Patriots

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    Why Moss fits:

    Moss has already had a huge amount of success with the Patriots even if the offense has changed slightly in the short time since his departure.  In 2007 he broke the single season receiving record with 23 touchdown receptions as a Patriot.  He was a crucial part of the undefeated regular season that the team enjoyed that year.

    Tom Brady loves Randy Moss and that counts for a lot in New England!  Moss' 23 touchdowns in 2007 were almost half of Brady's all time record breaking mark of 50 for the season.  For years Brady had worked with average receivers and never truly had a number one option outside of Deion Branch in his prime.  Branch has been a good addition during his second spell with the team but hasn't made the impact Moss did.

    Moss already expressed his desire to return to New England during an interview with a Minnesota talk radio station at the end of the season.  The biggest issue for the team that signs Moss will be getting him motivated.  His work rate and determination were severely lacking on many occasions during last season.  This probably wouldn't be a problem if he returned to New England as he has seemingly been humbled by the experience of last season shown by his declaration that his "heart is in New England".

    The Patriots were exposed in the playoffs.  They lacked a receiver good enough to stretch the field.  Brandon Tate showed flashes during the regular season but he hasn't proven himself as a viable option.  He also doesn't have the size that the team is looking for.  Moss obviously does.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    Bill Belichick doesn't just get rid of players for the sake of it.  It's hard to imagine him reneging on the decision to trade Moss after just four games last season without a drastic change in Moss' attitude.  

    There had been reports of feuding involving Moss and offensive co-ordinator Bill O'Brien before he left the team.  O'Brien remains on the Patriots' staff.

    Would Randy Moss be able to repeat his performances from his first stint in New England?  Is he the same player?  That's debatable.


    I'm not buying this one.  Moss had his time in New England, he is definitely not the player that he was in 2007.  Bill Belichick values the team aspect of the game too much.  The only way this happens is if Moss accepts a huge reduction in salary and proves that he is a team player above anything else.

9. The Chicago Bears

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    Why Moss fits:

    The Chicago Bears have depth at the wide receiver position but lack a true number one receiver.  They lack that one elite receiver that terrifies cornerbacks and demands coverage to shift their way.

    Starters Johnny Knox and Devin Hester are explosive ball carriers but inconsistent catching the ball and unpolished as receivers.  

    Knox is the team's first choice but probably would be the second receiver on most playoff teams.  He is the perfect example of a guy who could take his game to the next level if there were better pieces around him.  Right now he must, more often than not, face the opposition's best cover corner.  If he had someone like Moss across from him he would be able to exploit a better matchup against second choice defenders.

    Instead he has Hester who still looks like a kick returner playing receiver.  He is unpolished as a football player and incapable of taking on top level cornerbacks on a consistent basis yet.

    Earl Bennett prospered as the team's third choice receiver last season.  He finished the year with 46 receptions for 561 yards.  Bennett is a solid possession receiver who most teams would be happy to have.  He is unspectacularly reliable and as such will remain a complimentary receiver at best.

    Randy Moss may not fit the Bears' offensive scheme but offensive guru Mike Martz could find a place for him.  Matching Jay Cutler's cannon arm with possibly the greatest jump ball receiver ever to play would only help the Bears' pursuit of a Super Bowl title.

    He would simply give the Bears a dimension that they currently don't have.  They are a team without any tall receivers of note on the roster.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    The obvious issue with Randy Moss landing in Chicago is the system run by offensive co-ordinator Mike Martz.  Martz prefers agile receivers and has good reason to.  Randy Moss does not have a very diverse route tree.  He doesn't make the tough catches over the middle and is not great at beating players with the ball in his hands.

    Martz ran the greatest show on turf in St. Louis with shifty receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt.  The difference between that team and this is that Holt and Bruce both had size as well as the ability to beat their defenders in one-on-one situations.  They are also a pair of hall-of-fame receivers that understood how to play the position as well as anyone.

    Moss' money demands could also prevent this fantasy from becoming a reality.  The Bears need to upgrade their offensive line in more than one area.  They drastically need a left tackle which is always a costly addition to make to any team.


    In the right situation Moss could flourish in Chicago.  A lot needs to happen for him to land here and it is unlikely but it would be intriguing to see what Mike Martz would do with such an enigmatic talent.

8. The Carolina Panthers

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    Why Moss fits:

    Outside of Steve Smith, Randy Moss has more talent in his dreads than the current Panthers' receivers do altogether.

    Steve Smith has been carrying the load in Carolina for quite some time.  He's no spring chicken anymore clocking in at 31 years of age.  Last season was Smith's worst statistically since 2002 yet he still led the team in both receptions (46) and yardage (554).  He only caught two touchdown passes which was only one less than team leader David Gettis.

    Much of Smith's struggles were as a result of the Panthers' struggle as a team but the lack of receiving options cannot be ignored.  As a team they ranked 32nd in passing yards and points.  Gettis and fellow rookie Brandon LaFell showed flashes in their first seasons but remain unproven quantities.

    Moss would fit well with the Panthers who should have a strong running game in 2011.  The emergence of Mike Goodson last season means that the team will still have two strong running-backs even if DeAngello Williams leaves in free agency.  Goodson and Jonathan Stewart would give the team a basis from which to run play action.

    Whether the threat of the running game would give Moss a chance to take advantage of single coverage or whether his presence would open up the running game for others, Randy Moss would be a good pickup for Carolina on the field.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    Whether it be Jimmy Clausen, Blaine Gabbert or even Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers will have a young quarterback in 2011.  Randy Moss is not a good player to have around a young quarterback.  He would be just another problem to deal with should he get disgruntled.  The quarterback would be the first target if he wasn't getting the ball often enough or if he was sick of losing.

    The Panthers are a team in transition.  They need to rebuild many areas of the team and Moss doesn't have enough time to wait around.  He would likely be disinterested and only serve to take away valuable playing time from those behind him.


    It would be a risky decision for Carolina if they picked up Moss.  He could serve to be part of what could be a strong offense depending on the quality of quarterback play; but if things turned sour he would quickly become a disruptive figure and possibly do permanent damage to those around him.  This is definitely a risk reward option for Carolina.

    Should they sign Moss it will reflect in the team's belief that they don't need a transition phase.

7. The Baltimore Ravens

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    Why Moss fits:

    I'd like to tell you that the Ravens are lacking a receiver that can stretch the field, but they are not.  

    The Ravens biggest struggles last season was the lack of pace in their first choice receivers.  The coaching staff opted to play three possession receivers in TJ Houshmandzadeh, Anquan Boldin and Derek Mason together.  This meant that Donte' Stallworth sat on the bench.

    Stallworth was exactly what the team needed but for whatever reason, whether it be attitude or lack of consistency, he didn't leave the sideline often.  This opens the door for Randy Moss to join Joe Flacco in Baltimore.

    Even at 34 years of age Moss can still stretch the field.  He has definitely lost some of his pace but he was so far ahead of everyone else anyway it's barely noticeable.  TJ Houshmandzadeh didn't fit well on the Ravens roster and shouldn't be brought back.  Pairing Moss with Anquan Boldin and Derek Mason, should he return and not retire, would be mouthwatering.

    Moss would be surrounded by strong leaders such as Mason, Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis so shouldn't have any issues with his attitude.  He would also be on a competitive team so his motivation should never come into question.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    There aren't any major obstacles to this.  The only real question is whether Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and general manager Ozzie Newsome consider Moss to be a worthwhile acquisition.  They may look to go another direction rather than picking up a wild card like Moss.


    The more I think about this the more that I like it.  Flacco has a strong arm, the offense needs a fast receiver, the team is competing and Ray Lewis would keep him in check.  The Ravens do have other needs to address but maybe looking at Moss first wouldn't be the worst of ideas.

6. The Cincinnati Bengals

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    Why Moss fits:

    Much like the Ravens, their AFC North rival Bengals also were lacking some speed on the outside in 2010.

    The much hyped arrival of Terrell Owens in Cincinnati last season made the fans, and media to an extent, overlook the fact that the two players were too similar to function.  Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are both possession receivers and neither can stretch a team defensively.  

    Pair them with Jordan Shipley, a slot receiver, and Jermaine Gresham, a huge tight end and the team had nobody who could run a deep route on a regular basis.

    Owens did on occasion get deep but he probably won't be back next year.  Moss could wreak havoc on the Ravens' and Steelers' secondaries if the Bengals signed him.  He would open up the short and intermediate routes for his teammates also, while maybe bringing some enthusiasm back into Carson Palmer's arm (and mindset).

    The Bengals have taken on players with questionable characters in the past successfully.  Even last season the return of Adam Jones (formerly nicknamed Pacman) turned out to be a solid pick up for the team.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    Carson Palmer may or may not be in Cincinnati (or the NFL for that matter) next season but if he is, would he really be happy about signing another diva receiver?  He blatantly had enough last season after the 'T.Ocho' experiment failed so miserably.

    The other question is would Moss really want to play for the Bengals.  They don't look to be on the way up as things stand never mind being ready to compete immediately.


    The Bengal's offense is set for a complete retooling in 2011 as Cedric Benson is also on his way out.  Much of this situation depends on Carson Palmer and it would be intriguing to see if a Randy Moss signing would help or hinder the chances of him playing in Cincinnati next season.

5. The San Diego Chargers

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    Why Moss fits:

    There is no guarantee that Vincent Jackson will be playing in San Diego next year.  Irrelevant of the fact that he has been franchise tagged, Jackson has shown willingness to sit out games already.  He wants a long term deal and may not get one.

    Should Jackson be traded the team will be in need of another receiver.  The team's other receivers proved capable if uninspiring during last season.  With Philip Rivers at the helm of the offense receivers are always going to get opportunities in San Diego.  Malcolm Floyd would be the number one option without Jackson and he is very similar to Moss.

    The team does not need a possession receiver because of Antonio Gates and to an extent Patrick Crayton.  This would allow them to add Moss to the roster.  The Chargers love to throw the deep ball so imagine if Moss, Gates and Floyd were all running go routes.  Any defense would have trouble containing the trio.

    The Chargers' running game struggled last season and another outside threat could relieve some of the pressure on Ryan Matthews to step up his game next season.

    The Chargers are a competitive team right now.  Had they not struggled so severely on Special Teams during last season they would have been one of the best teams in the league.  Moss would have very few reasons to be unhappy in San Diego.

    (You think he wouldn't love to beat up on Al Davis' Raiders without Nnamdi twice a year too?)

    Obstacles to overcome:

    Philip Rivers is a fiery competitor but maybe doesn't possess the authoritative influence that is needed to get the best out of Randy Moss.  Moss would definitely be the second option in San Diego to Tight End Antonio Gates.  This may not be something that he could handle.

    The Chargers don't appear to be willing to invest in Vincent Jackson.  Jackson is much younger than Moss and potentially gives the team more as part of the offense.  If they are unwilling to invest in him why would they take on a short term fix for roughly the same price?


    The Chargers will only be interested in picking up Moss if they can find a viable trade for Vincent Jackson.  We cannot even be sure if they are actively searching to send the receiver away while Jackson may decide to accept the franchise tag and play.  There is a lot to be determined in this situation without free agency.

4. The Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Why Moss fits:

    Mike Sims-Walker's departure from Jacksonville leaves the team with a dire situation at wide receiver.  Kasim Osgood is the only proven player in the unit and he is known for his special teams play rather than as a receiver.  Mike Thomas came into his own as a second year player last season.  He is very small and does not possess the ability to be the team's number one option. 

    Thomas did lead the team in yards with 820 last season but had only four touchdowns (including a freakish tipped hail mary pass against the Texans).  Losing Sims-Walkers' seven touchdowns will be difficult to replace as that was one more than the combined total of every other receiver (6).

    Mercedes Lewis had 10 touchdowns to compensate for the others' futility.  However he is now the team's best threat so would receive double coverage on almost every play next year.

    The Jaguars are a youth inclined team but have shown a willingness to sign veterans.  The acquisitions of guys like Kirk Morrison (29) and Aaron Kampman (31) prove that if a player is good enough they will sign him.  Moss could give David Garrard the talent at receiver that he has never really had since taking over in 2006.

    The Jaguars will likely be looking to bring in more than just one receiver for the coming season.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    The Jaguars will always be a run first team with David Garrard at quarterback and Maurice Jones-Drew in the backfield.  While that does give the team the chance to run play action with Moss, it also means that Jones-Drew is the focal point of the offense while Moss would be a fringe player.

    While the Jaguars have acquired veterans they have also looked to acquire leadership with those veterans.  Both Morrison and Kampman were widely respected on their previous teams while Torry Holt the season before was in a similar mold.

    The Jags aren't shaping up to succeed in 2011.  They finished with a .500 record in 2010 and couldn't take advantage of the under-performing teams in the AFC South to make the playoffs.


    There is no doubt that Randy Moss would drastically upgrade the level of talent in Jacksonville.  He would at least bring some much needed excitement to a team with one of the worst fan bases in the league.  However he is not the type of player that Jack Del Rio is looking for right now.  It is unlikely, but still possible, that Moss makes an appearance in a Jags' jersey next season.

3. The St. Louis Rams

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    Why Moss fits:

    The St. Louis Rams are a team on the rise.  Steve Spagnuolo has made some very astute additions to the team since he took over two years ago.  Last year they suffered from not having an explosive threat on the outside.

    Sam Bradford was throwing to guys like Laurent Robinson and Danario Alexander.  The loss of Donnie Avery for the season really cost them offensively.  His replacement, Mark Clayton, suffered the same fate which forced Robinson into the starting lineup.

    Clayton is scheduled to become a free agent this year while you cannot guarantee that Avery returns to full speed.  Avery suffered a torn ACL, the same injury Wes Welker suffered at the end of 2009, before last season.  If Avery doesn't return to 100% the team will need a deep threat to compliment Danny Amendola.  Amendola is possibly the best slot receiver in the league but receives no recognition because of the team he plays for.

    This team could end up looking a lot like the Patriots offense of 2007 if they signed Moss.  Avery would play the Donte' Stallworth role, while Amendola would be Welker and Moss could be Moss.  Not to mention the fact that Josh McDaniels is now the team's offensive co-ordinator.

    The offense has been put on Sam Bradford's shoulders as Steven Jackson's days of carrying the ball on almost every down are over.  The spread system that the team used for much of last season should give them plenty of opportunities to take advantage of Moss' skill set.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    The Rams may be too worried about his attitude and how it would affect their young quarterback.  Sam Bradford showed last season that he is the face of the franchise.  The coaching staff will not want to risk disrupting his development with a questionable character.

    If the team feels that Avery is returning to 100% then there really isn't any need for Moss in St. Louis.  He could still sign there if they are seriously considering making a run deep in the playoffs next season. 

    The Rams should be able to win the NFC West next season without splashing out on Moss.


    This could be a great landing spot for Moss.  The Rams look like they are set up to be the best team in the poor NFC West next season.  They are the only team that is settled at quarterback and adding weapons to Bradford's arsenal is one of their key objectives heading into the season.

2. The Cleveland Browns

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    Why Moss fits:

    The Browns ranked 29th in the NFL last season in passing yards per game.  They finished the season on 186.6 yards per game.  They managed all that with household names such as Brian Robiskie, Chansi Stuckey and Mohamed Massaquoi catching passes.

    (Okay, maybe Browns fans get enough sarcasm!)

    Of the three mentioned, Mohamed Massaquoi could be in a similar position to Johnny Knox in Chicago.  Should he drop down to the team's second option then he could flourish against less talented defenders.

    The Browns are widely being predicted to draft AJ Green in a few weeks.  Drafting a wide receiver that high up in the draft is never a great decision in my mind even if it is a glaring need.  Make no qualms about it, it is that big of a need in Cleveland.

    However the team has other options.  Randy Moss is one of them.  Pat Shurmur worked wonders in St. Louis last year with a rookie quarterback and, at best, average receivers.  He and Mike Holmgren are considered great offensive minds so adding a piece like Moss could only be a good thing.

    Joshua Cribbs is possibly the team's biggest threat to opposing team's secondaries but he is very unconventional.  The Browns essentially look to create kick return situations for Cribbs on offense.  This is a gimmick that cannot be relied on repeatedly. 

    The team needs more than one good receiver.  Getting a potentially elite receiver if even only for a short time would be a massive signal of intent to excite Browns fans. 

    Moss could feast on most of the cornerbacks in the AFC North twice a year.  Ike Taylor, of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is the only player that could even compete with him physically.  Taylor may not even be in Pittsburgh next season either as he is scheduled to be a free agent.  The rest of the cornerbacks on the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals are all undersized compared to Moss.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    The Browns did show some life last season, beating teams like the Patriots and Saints, but are not guaranteed to be in the playoffs.  Randy Moss could become very disinterested very quickly in Cleveland.

    Does Colt McCoy have a strong enough arm to take advantage of the tall receiver?  I doubt it.  The Browns are also changing scheme to a west coast offense which simply doesn't fit Moss' skill set.


    This isn't a simple case of Moss not fitting the system and being turned away.  He is so much better than the Browns' current receivers that they would have to consider altering the offense slightly to adapt to him.  The same case can be made against the team drafting AJ Green who has a similar body type to Moss (Green is half an inch shorter than Moss).

1. The Washington Redksins

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    Why Moss fits:

    The Redskins have the worst skill position players in the league.  Their receiving corp is the biggest reason for that.  

    Santana Moss needs a better partner than Anthony Armstrong.  S. Moss had 93 receptions last season.  Anthony Armstrong had 44 receptions while no other receiver still on the roster had double digit receptions (Joey Galloway had 12 but was subsequently released).

    Yes that means that Joey Galloway was a relevant receiver in Washington at 39 years of age.

    (That kind of says it all...Any real need for me to continue?)

    Regardless of the quarterback situation in Washington next year, the team is in desperate need of an upgrade at receiver.  R. Moss would bring them an abundance of talent as well as the exposure that Daniel Snyder craves. 

    Snyder has no fear in spending money on big name free agents unless he has changed his mind after the Albert Haynesworth experience. (Doubtful!)

    R. Moss would be the face of that offense and would get as many targets as he would want to work for.

    Obstacles to overcome:

    The Redskins are in a similar state to the Oakland Raiders team that Moss played on.  In other words, the Redskins have a horrible offense.  Donovan McNabb isn't likely to be there.  Rex Grossman would hardly have R. Moss' respect.  There are too many excuses available for him to slacken off and not be motivated in Washington.

    The Redskins lack leadership.  Mike Shanahan showed last season that he doesn't get along with players who have any egotistical traits.  He even had problems with McNabb who is a humble team player with no significant ego to speak of.


    This is very likely.  Daniel Snyder will be fascinated by the bright lights that R. Moss would bring.  He is desperate to make his team relevant once again and I doubt he has actually learned anything from the Haynesworth saga. 

    The Redskins would likely be the highest bidders for Moss and he is unlikely to turn down big money to play anywhere else.  The Patriots being the only exception but even that is not a given.


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The Possibly Surprising Omissions

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    The Kansas City Chiefs:

    The Chiefs have no need for Moss.  They need a possession receiver that can compliment Dwayne Bowe by taking advantage of the space created by his deep threat.  Bowe is essentially a younger version of Moss in that he doesn't really run much of the route tree.

    The Chiefs will be searching for a Wes Welker type of receiver rather than a Randy Moss, that is unless Dexter McCluster can sufficiently step into the role.


    The New York Jets:

    You know they may do it simply to get one up on the Patriots but it's unlikely.  When the cornerstone of your franchise (yes, Revis is the cornerstone right now and not Sanchez) calls somebody a slouch, it doesn't bode well for team chemistry to sign said "slouch".

    Also the team won't let both Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards leave during free agency.  Whoever they resign will be their first choice receiver.

    (And it's not like keeping track on those two isn't difficult enough without adding Moss to the equation!)


    The Tennessee Titans:

    Firstly, I don't think Randy really enjoyed himself as a bit part player in Tennessee.

    Secondly, he's also a player that doesn't have time to wait around for a quarterback to develop.  The Titans will probably have little interest in retaining him now that the Vince Young era in Tennessee is over anyway.

    Thirdly, Run first teams don't make for a happy Randy Moss.  Chris Johnson is always going to be the focal point of that offense.


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