Earlier today, ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss floated the idea that veteran receiver Randy Moss, currently set to appear in Super Bowl XLVII with the 49ers, could make a return trip to the Patriots in 2013:
The Patriots' equivalent to Moss in terms of No. 3 role this past season was Deion Branch, who played almost the same percentage of snaps as Moss. He is also a free agent (key stats: 16 catches, 145 yards, 0 TDs).
In terms of each receiver's skill set at this stage of their careers, one could make the case that Moss' vertical presence would be a better fit with the Patriots next season (the vertical element has been lacking since Moss' departure). If the Patriots could be assured that they'd be getting the Moss locker room presence of 2007/2012, and not the Moss of 2010, perhaps it would be an option they'd consider in a reshaped receiver corps that will also likely include an infusion of youth.
Reiss makes a really solid point in the comparison to the role that Branch played this season. Branch was essentially a decoy on most of his snaps, rarely even being looked at by quarterback Tom Brady. Veteran Donte Stallworth, in his one game with the team, arguably made more of an impact from a receiving standpoint, catching one deep ball from Tom Brady for a touchdown.
Moss could come in, and provide somewhat of a legitimate threat at that #3 spot. He'd be someone that the defense would have to respect more than Branch, and he'd also likely be able to contribute as a blocker, similar to what Branch did this past season (this was an area Branch was exceptionally strong in, but also an area Moss received praise from in San Francisco).
Of course, I wouldn't expect the Patriots to land Moss and be content with the depth at the position. As the past few seasons have shown, the Patriots could desperately use some youth and athleticism at the wide receiver spot.
This wouldn't exactly be the type of move you'd expect from the Patriots. Nonetheless, when a writer that I respect as much as Mike Reiss floats this possibility, you have to think it has some merit.