With all due respect to Jerry Rice, when it comes to getting the most out of wide receivers acquired in free agency or via trade, the Oakland Raiders haven’t had much success. Considering the buzz surrounding Oakland’s recent acquisition of Antonio Brown in trade from the Pittsburgh Steelers, I thought what better a way to start off the week than by looking back a similar trade in recent Raiders history.
With the Minnesota Vikings, from 1998 to 2004, Randy Moss amassed over 1,200-yards in all but one of those seasons. During that same time, Moss rang up double-digit touchdowns in all but one of those seasons, garnering the most receiving touchdowns across the league in 1998, 2000, and 2003. While earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1998, Moss went on to enjoy First Team All Pro selections in 1998, 2000, and 2003. After 7 seasons with 5 Pro Bowl appearances playing for the Vikings, Randy Moss was traded to Oakland for linebacker Napoleon Harris, a 1st round pick (7th overall), and a 7th round pick in the 2005 draft.
In 2005, Randy Moss experienced what most players do when they go to play with the Raiders, decline. Gone were the Pro Bowl appearances, the All Pro selections, the receiving touchdown titles. There’s a reason they call it the ‘Black Hole’ in Oakland, because clearly Randy Moss’ production was sucked clean into it. With 1,005-yards and 8 touchdowns in 2005 and a less stellar injury-riddled 553-yard, 3 touchdown season in 2006, Randy wanted desperately out of Oakland to resurrect his career and said as much publicly.
As with most football games since 2002, the Oakland Raiders could not finish... Randy Moss. In 2007, Randy Moss was traded to the New England Patriots for a 4th round pick in the draft. In his first year for the Patriots, Moss broke the NFL single-season record for receiving touchdowns with 23, amassed 1,493 yards, was selected to the Pro Bowl, and was again named an All Pro in what was the Patriots most successfully unsuccessful season in their history. Despite being undefeated in the regular season and advancing to Super Bowl XLII, New England lost to the New York Giants to the delight of just about everyone outside of New England.
In 2008 and 2009, Randy amassed over 1,000 yards and scored over 10 touchdowns each season, again obtaining the receiving touchdown title with 13 in 2009.
In 2010, Randy bounced around, first playing in New England, Minnesota, and Tennessee before retiring. In 2012, Randy returned to play for the San Francisco 49ers. Even with these last couple years and his unimpressive years as a Raider, Randy was selected to the 2000’s All Decade team and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
When I sat down to write this, I had full intention of delving into two other Raider receiving duds that would be of special interest to Broncos fans, Javon Walker and Ashley Lelie, both of whom enjoyed dipped toes of success in Denver, but ultimately defected to the mediocrity (that’s being generous) of Oakland Raider-brand football. However, considering the magnatude of the Antonio brown trade, I think that in this case, quality of comparison is more important than quantity. With 7 Pro Bowl appearances, 4 First Team and one 2nd Team All Pro selections, being a 2-time receptions leader, and being the receiving touchdown leader in 2018, if I were Antonio Brown, I’d look at what the Raiders didn’t do with Randy Moss and I’d be absolutely terrified.
As Broncos fans, we’ve seen this show before. I believe we know how this one will end.
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From time to time the Steelers play Renegade at Heinz Field, in order to fire up the fan base at the start of the fourth quarter. But the true renegade franchise always has been the Raiders, and their trade for Antonio Brown could be only the first act of pilfering Pittsburgh's roster.
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