Randy Moss: With WR's Skills Gone, New England Patriots' Interest Should Be Too

Drew BonifantAnalyst IIApril 18, 2011

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Randy Moss #81 of the New England Patriots enters the field before the NFL season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals at Gillette Stadium on September 12, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The story's always been the same for Randy Moss. But even the classics can undergo revisions.

For years, essentially his whole career, Moss's pros and cons have been the same. "Fantastic talent, but...", with the "but" leading to such detriments as bad attitude, laziness and selfishness. It was the case in Minnesota, it was the case in Oakland, it was the case in his Great American Tour in 2010 that included stops in New England, Minnesota (again) and Tennessee.

The book on Moss is different now. The old problems are still there. The talent, on the other hand, no longer is.

Moss has been generating noise in a dead offseason. He said he wants to return to New England (no word on whether the interest is mutual). He was linked to the New York Jets, though now it appears the Jets aren't interested.

So depending on who you ask, Moss has his suitors. Depending on who you ask, Moss is out of luck.

There shouldn't be a discussion. Moss has lost the redeeming quality of his unprecedented talent. He no longer runs faster, jumps higher or catches better than anyone in the game.

Once a nightmare to match up with one-on-one, Moss has seen the number of corners winning those battles rise in a short period of time. Vontae Davis, Antonio Cromartie, Darrelle Revis and even an off-the-streets Mike McKenzie have all handled Moss with relative ease since the 2009 season.

Moss dropped a touchdown pass in his hands against Miami, and as a Viking, didn't make an attempt to grab Brett Favre's final pass in a loss at Green Bay. He was eagerly acquired by both Minnesota and Tennessee, only to be abandoned in the offense right from the start.

Coaches Brad Childress and Jeff Fisher quickly realized what Bill Belichick already had. The future Hall of Famer's jersey still read "Moss." His game, however, indicated otherwise.

At 34-years-old, he has slowed, both literally and figuratively. He can't get past defenders and can't be relied upon to make plays. Opposing coaches challenge him with schemes that would have been suicide up to 2008, and Moss can't take advantage. Effort used to be the reason, but now it's a moot point. He's become a toothless tiger, still growling and demanding to be feared.

Moss is a point of fevered debate in New England. Many fans, pointing to the expansive highlight reel of the 2007, '08 and '09 seasons, want to see Moss wearing his old 81, catching passes from Tom Brady. Many fans, pointing to the 2010 offense's newfound efficiency, want him as far away from Gillette and this smooth-running offense as possible.

It was an argument. It isn't anymore. Moss, like another larger-than-life Boston athlete in Shaquille O'Neal, has the same bag of drawbacks and an empty bag of physical skills. His ability to help the team is gone. His ability to hurt it remains.

It's sad, really. Moss has found his accusations tough to get over. But Father Time has become his toughest opponent yet.