The Boston media is once again out there trying their hardest to vilify an outgoing Boston athlete. I've never thought of Randy as the troublemaker the sports media would like him to be and I don't think most Pats pulpit readers have. What has transpired these past four weeks certainly was not in the slightest bit the second coming of Manny Ramirez despite what the Globe, Herald and ESPN would like you to believe.
What happened was, as Belichick and Moss have stated, a business move. There was no fall out. There was no drama. Both sides did what was in the best interest for them and there is nothing wrong with that.
I've tried to view things through Moss' perspective and the conclusion that I've come to is that this trade was really set in motion when Randy was not offered a contract extension this off-season. From all of the articles I have read, it is pretty clear that the Patriots were NOT going to offer Moss a contract during or after this season. I personally wanted Randy to get a contract but Patriots management thought otherwise.
A lot of the Randy haters would say "so what" at this point. "He is a professional under contract who should serve out his last year without complaint like a professional". Yes, but this isn't just any year for Moss. It is, possibly, the last contract year of his career. This means that Randy, more than ever, needed to put up some big numbers in order to get that nice long term deal from another team. That deal that the Patriots denied him. His last big NFL pay day.
Randy was not going to put up big numbers this year though. As we all know, the defense has changed and not for the immediate better. It is a young inexperienced defense that needs to be kept off the field and so the offense changed to complement that. There weren't going to be as many quick strikes and long throws. The name of the game was now on long, methodical, diverse drives to keep the young defense fresh and off the field. More emphasis on the running game, short to intermediary throws and spreading the ball around to keep opposing defenses on their feet. It is no longer the "lets get the ball to our playmakers" offense of the past three years. In other words, not a offense conducive to putting up big WR numbers.
So now look at things from Randy's perspective. You like the team you play for but you are on your last contract year of your career. Even though you like the team, their schemes have changed to make it difficult for you to show what you can really do and why you deserve that last big NFL deal. On top of that, you have done everything that has been asked of you by the organization the previous three years and you weren't even approached about an extension. Imagine Moss in the 2011 season had he remained a Patriot. He would be 34 years old and coming off his worst season as a Patriot statistically though not because of diminishing skills. Teams would use that as leverage to either sign him to a one year deal, as the Pats did in '07, or to sign him for less money than he was really worth.
I think that Randy would have done what was asked of him this year out of loyalty to his teammates but he would not have been happy. Why should he have been happy? It was a very bad situation for him to be in and so he asked for a trade after week 1. With another team he would either get a chance to put up big numbers or get that last NFL contract or both.
I see two ways this trade could have been avoided:
1.) What I think would have been the best option: Having signed Moss to an extension during the offseason. We don't have a WR that is better than Randy. We just don't. If the Pats had given him that final contract then the need for Randy to have a big numbers year would have been gone. The Patriots would also have no holes at WR.
2.) Not the option I would have wanted to see for obvious reasons but... Had the Pats not changed their offensive scheme and retained an "air it out" offense. Even if Randy didn't get the contract from the Pats, at least he would be able to put up big numbers to get that contract from some other team for next year.
Look, I think we all agree that athletes make enough money as it is but what we have to keep in mind is that these guys don't really have that big a window to make that money in. They are only earning these big salaries for a very small amount of time, relative to the rest of their lives. I think this becomes specially apparent in athletes when they realize that they are at the twilight of their careers. For them, it is the last chance in their lives for that big pay day. That is why Brady did not take a pay cut for his latest contract and that is why Randy Moss is no longer a Patriot.
The fact that this trade was done relatively drama free is a testament to the class act that was Randy Moss in New England.