Word around the campfire is the Patriots and Vikings are in talks to bring WR Randy Moss back to Minnesota. This on the heels of Moss' vocal displeasure weeks ago about his contract - or lack-thereof - and most recently his alleged unhappiness with the goose-egg he put up in the stat sheet last night against the Dolphins - something that hadn't happened since 2006.
What does this have to do with the Broncos? Well, maybe nothing. It might, however, give you some insight about how the Broncos handle personnel, and how they might handle it in the future. Stick with me.
The Patriots traded low for Randy Moss back during the 2007 NFL Draft. The Patriots sent a 4th Round pick to the Raiders for a guy that was in his prime and still could get it done. The question, of course, was would Moss be motivated to play. In his two seasons in Oakland, Moss caught 102 passes - combined - and by the end of his second year was a shell of the player that took the NFL by storm for the Vikings from 1998-2004. Moss, after all, wason pace to break many of Jerry Rice's records. He was that good, that early.
What the Patriots knew, however, was that Moss was in the final year of his contract. If he wanted a big payday - and the respect and legacy that is only reserved for Super Bowl winners, Moss needed to play hard. The Patriots took advantage, bought low, and added an extremely talented, yet combustible, player to the locker room.
The key, however, was the Patriots were built to support a player like Moss. The locker room was filled with veterans like Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Corey Dillon, Mike Vrabel, Richard Seymour, Rodney Harrison and of course, Tom Brady. That was exactly what Moss needed at the time. Moss knew it and the Patriots knew it.
Without going into a complete history lesson we all know what happened. The Patriots, with Moss and Brady firing on all cylinders, had the most explosive offensive attack in the history of the NFL. Moss' 23 touchdowns in 2007 broke a NFL record. The Patriots did everything, except win a Super Bowl.
That didn't stop the Patriots from signing Moss to a 3-year, $27 million contract after the season. In a way, Moss took less money to stay with New England. It was a good situation. Tom Brady, a decent paycheck and the chance to win Super Bowls every year.
Then Brady got hurt.
In a lot of ways, that changed things for Moss and the Patriots. Sure, New England won 11 games, but Moss' production went down. The Patriots missed the playoffs too. The age was starting to show on defense. Bill Belichick knew he had to try and rebuild on the fly.
That process began before last season when the Patriots traded Vrabel and Seymour to Kansas City and Oakland respectively. Rodney Harrison and Corey Dillon retired. Gone were Ellis Hobbs and Asante Samuel. The Patriots revamped their secondary with draft picks. All the while, Moss' displeasure seemed to grow.
That displeasure reached a boiling point this summer during Training Camp when Moss went public saying he felt disrespected that the Patriots hadn't approached him about a contract extension. Moss knew that going public would anger the Patriots - as it did with Samuel and WR Deion Branch.
My belief is the Patriots were growing tired of Moss as well. You can afford to have a personality like Moss in your locker room when it is full of respected veterans, guys that can keep order amongst themselves. Roster turnover, however, creates less structure for Moss - and an unhappy Randy Moss is a dangerous Randy Moss in the locker room.
It all seems to have come to a head today, with Moss unhappy after a game his team won by 31 points - but he had no catches. This is, after all, a contract year. After 4 games, Moss has just 9 receptions for 139 yards. The Patriots are 3-1. In a lot of ways the team is moving back towards the philosophy they used to win 3 Super Bowls - team.
Focus now on the Broncos. They have made moves that past couple of years to rid themselves of players they felt did not buy into that concept. I'm not here to fan the flames of a dead argument, but the Randy Moss situation is somewhat similar - if only backwards.
The Broncos want that team-first attitude. The same one the Patriots had when they won 3 Super Bowls in 4 years. Sure, the acquisition of Moss has to be considered a success for the price paid, and it almost got them a Super Bowl, but the time has come to move on as the Patriots head into a 'reloading phase'.
The Broncos, too, are in that phase. They targeted the players they felt needed to go, and have rewarded the players they feel can become that locker room of strong, dependable, team-first veterans.
That also means, that when the time comes, the Broncos will have a locker room that would allow them to take advantage of another team's situation, like the Patriots did with Moss, even if that player has had 'issues'. Buy low, sell high.
The rumor is the Patriots would get a 3rd Round pick from Minnesota. Not bad for a 33-year old receiver, especially considering they only gave up a 4th Rounder to get him at age 29.
The Broncos, too, could possibly be in a situation like this. It's the business of football, and like the Patriots or not few do it better. Josh McDaniels learned from the best, and the Broncos are better for it.