Life is pretty good these days if you’re Kevin Durant. Well, except for that whole not winning a championship thing, but after Monday’s announcement that KD is heading to Golden State, Durant’s lack of championship jewelry surely feels like it’ll only be the case for, oh, I don’t know, the next 330 or so days?
Anyway, it didn’t take long for Golden State signing Kevin Durant to bring up comparisons to the New England Patriots signing star players to team up with Tom Brady and friends. On Tuesday, SB Nation’s Ryan Van Bibber wrote that "The Patriots pulled off the NFL equivalent of signing Kevin Durant…twice."
Gee, I wonder who those two guys could be?
Darrelle Revis’s 2014 decision to bet on himself and join the Patriots makes a ton of sense, at least for bar room debate purposes. Revis signed a two-year deal with a "there is absolutely NO way I’m sticking around" poison pill in the second year that would make keeping him around impossible. Betting on himself turned into a five year, $70 million deal with Revis’s spurned ex-girlfriend, the New York Jets, who guaranteed him $39 million of that $70 million.
The other guy, of course, was Randy Moss. You know, the guy that broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving touchdown record with Tom Brady in 2007.
Here’s what SB Nation had to say about the Patriots picking up Randy Moss (pay attention to the "picking up" verbage, it’ll be important later) before the 2007 NFL season:
"The 2007 Patriots did something similar, and even more remarkable in football terms, when they acquired Randy Moss and Wes Welker. What they were able to accomplish on the field that season was remarkable. But it will ultimately go down as a disappointment because of that whole 18-1 thing, a sting Golden State can sympathize with after losing to the Cavs in this year's championship.
The big takeaway here, as I see it, isn't finding an equivalent of Durant signing with the Warriors, it's that the Warriors are the Patriots of the NBA."
This kind of conveniently ignores almost all of the circumstances that led to the Patriots even having a snowball’s chance in Florida of signing Randy Moss in the first place.
First of all, Randy Moss clearly wanted to bail on the Oakland Raiders, who were awful at the time. Here’s what Moss had to say about the silver and black in 2006 when he was asked about dropping too many passes:
"Maybe because I'm unhappy and I'm not too much excited about what's going on, so, my concentration and focus level tend to go down sometimes when I'm in a bad mood"
And a couple days after that, on Fox Sports Radio…
"I might want to look forward to moving somewhere else next year to have another start and really feel good about going out here and playing football."
Compare that to these lines from Kevin Durant in his Player’s Tribune article:
"I'm from Washington, D.C. originally, but Oklahoma City truly raised me. It taught me so much about family as well as what it means to be a man. There are no words to express what the organization and the community mean to me, and what they will represent in my life and in my heart forever. The memories and friendships are something that go far beyond the game. Those invaluable relationships are what made this deliberation so challenging.
It really pains me to know that I will disappoint so many people with this choice, but I believe I am doing what I feel is the right thing at this point in my life and my playing career.
I will miss Oklahoma City, and the role I have had in building this remarkable team. I will forever cherish the relationships within the organization - the friends and teammates that I went to war with on the court for nine years, and all the fans and people of the community. They have always had my back unconditionally, and I cannot be more grateful for what they have meant to my family and to me."
Doesn’t exactly sound like a cranky player trying to play his way out of town like Randy Moss clearly was, does it?
When Durant left OKC as a free agent, his stock was, and still is, at an all-time high. KD is 27 years old, playing arguably the best ball he ever has, especially defensively, and was the reigning NBA MVP before Steph Curry snagged back-to-back MVP’s in 2015 and 2016.
Randy Moss, on the other hand, was not only in a bad mood, but as ESPN noted at the time, "…coming off a 2006 season in which he was often injured and had 42 receptions for 553 yards and three touchdowns, career lows in all those categories."
If Moss was tanking to leave Oakland, that’s a heck of a tank job. More likely than not, Randy was not only unhappy, but, by his own standards, he was having a nightmare of a season that had people wondering if he was washed up right before his 30th birthday.
That brings us to how the Patriots lucked into getting Randy Moss for pennies on the dollar, as opposed to Kevin Durant signing with Golden State after meeting with the handful of NBA teams that KD decided were worth his time on a holiday weekend.
So, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, Kevin Durant figured it was only worth it to meet with his Oklahoma City Thunder, the Golden State Warriors, the LA Clippers, the San Antonio Spurs, the Boston Celtics, and the Miami Heat.
(Slick move ending your trip in Miami on Sunday, too. If only we could all plan our business trips so well.)
Meanwhile, remember all the teams that Randy Moss met with in the 2006 offseason as a free agent?
None, because he wasn’t a free agent, he was a cranky dude on a bad Raiders team that was trying to unload him for whatever they could get.
How much did the Patriots have to throw at the Raiders to pair Randy Moss up with Tom Brady?
A fourth-round pick, and it wasn’t even New England’s own fourth-round pick – it was a fourth-rounder the Patriots got from the 49ers in the ’07 draft, after San Fran traded up with New England to draft BAMF offensive lineman Joe Staley.
Belichick traded a fourth-round pick pick that he acquired that day for Randy Moss.
Everyone knows Bill Belichick just loves his mid-round picks, but good grief, that’s about as far as what Golden State is paying for Kevin Durant as you can get.
Speaking of which, signing both Moss and Durant took some Monopoly-esque money-juggling – but in opposite ways.
KD’s deal is expected to be a two-year max deal for $54.3 million, with year one being set and year two being a player option. Golden State basically told the Slim Reaper "Hey, you come here, we’ll give you the most money that the league will allow us to and we’ll cut whoever we need to cut to make this work".
On the other hand, one of the conditions of the Randy Moss trade was that Moss had to restructure his deal, because the Patriots weren’t about to blow up their team just to sign him. After coming to New England, Randy threw the contract he was on at the time – which still had two years and over $20 million left – into the shredder and signed a new one-year deal for a base of $2.5 million, a $500,000 signing bonus, and a possible $1.75 million in incentives.
No offense to Kevin Durant, but Moss took a deal that most receivers at the time would’ve laughed at just for the chance to play with the Patriots. That’s nuts. Kevin Durant is an amazing talent, and so was Randy Moss, but that’s all they have in common, in this case. Saying the Patriots "…pulled off the NFL equivalent of signing Kevin Durant, TWICE", is only really accurate in the sense that both teams were already knocking at the door of a championship, and both teams went out and got freakishly amazing players to try to push themselves into invincibility – and championship immortality.
Hopefully Kevin Durant gets to hoist a championship trophy someday, because, as we all know, Randy Moss never did.