By Jason Powell, Associate Editor January 27, 2005 5:00 PM ET
Although team officials are denying it, numerous reports indicate the Vikings will at least consider the idea of trading star wide receiver Randy Moss during the offseason. Given his status as one of the most dynamic players in the league, any trade involving Moss would have a major fantasy impact.
If the Vikings unload Moss, would he retain his current standing as the top fantasy wideout. Would increase or decrease the fantasy value of his new teammates. Would Daunte Culpepper's stock drop without Moss?
Early rumored suitors in the Moss sweepstakes include the Ravens, Cardinals, Jets, Dolphins, and Raiders. We'll break it down team by team with some thoughts on what the ramifications of a Moss trade would be for all involved parties.
The Ravens Who would benefit: Moss would almost certainly lose his spot atop the wide receiver rankings, as quarterback Kyle Boller has never thrown more than 13 touchdown passes in a season. The argument could be made that Boller has never had a receiver who possesses even the talent of No. 84, but the third-year signal caller is no Culpepper. We'd like to think that one of the Ravens' wideouts would benefit from the extra defensive attention that Moss would draw, but it's hard to get excited about the likes of Clarence Moore and Kevin Johnson.
Todd Heap would probably be the biggest beneficiary, as Moss' presence would force opposing defenses to shift double-teams away from the fourth-year tight end. In other words, Moss, Heap, and Jamal Lewis would retain or even gain keeper value, while the rest of the Ravens would continue to be ignored by fantasy owners.
Why it could happen: Moss once complained that the Vikings had lost their "hero," which was in reference to former offensive coordinator and current Ravens' head coach Brian Billick. The Ravens are still stinging after missing out on Terrell Owens last year. The general consensus is that the team has enough veteran leadership to keep the eccentric Moss in check. Good luck with that.
Why it might not happen: There isn't a big difference between Moss and Owens on the field, but there's a dramatic difference in the asking price. The 49ers were willing to unload Owens for a second-round pick last year, while the Vikings could be asking for a starting player and as many as two first-round draft picks. Meanwhile, Lewis has been complaining about not getting enough touches. The addition of Moss would open up the running game, but Jamal might not be crazy about the idea of losing touches.
The Cardinals Who would benefit: We can't imagine there would be room for Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald if Moss came to town, so we can only assume that one of those players would be involved in the trade. It's more likely that Boldin would be dealt since head coach Dennis Green hand-picked Fitzgerald last year. Of course, this is all speculation.
Whether it's Josh McCown or Brad Johnson or someone else, the Cards' signal caller would certainly be the beneficiary of having Moss on the field. However, we have to question whether Johnson has the arm-strength to take full advantage of Randy, which means Moss' numbers would take a hit. Boldin proved as a rookie that playing wideout for the Cards isn't a fantasy death sentence. Moss would retain his value, while his wing man and quarterback would get a boost.
Why it could happen: Green drafted the Super Freak in 1998 and coddled him until leaving late in the 2001 season.
Why it might not happen: The Vikings are still trying to rebuild the defense that Green destroyed during his 10-year coaching tenure. As such, they would likely seek defensive help in exchange for Moss. However, the Sheriff appears to have learned from his past mistakes, as he apparently isn't willing to part with his top defensive players, even for No. 84.
The Jets Who would benefit: Chad Pennington was unable to get the ball to his current deep threat Justin McCareins. Perhaps C-H-A-D's upcoming surgery will help him regain his arm strength. Then again, Pennington didn't tear his rotator cuff until week nine, so what was his excuse in the first eight games?
Moss still thinks highly of his former Marshall teammate, but that could change quickly if the duo should struggle to regain their old magic. From a fantasy standpoint, this is probably the most attractive scenario for Moss owners. Likewise, Pennington's keeper value would skyrocket once he proves he can throw the deep ball.
Why it could happen: It seems like a big reach to us, but several media outlets seem to believe the Jets have a strong interest in reuniting Moss and Pennington based on their history at Marshall.
Why it might not happen: Randy Moss and the New York media? Does anyone remember how the last temperamental Randy dealt with the media attention he received on his first visit to the Big Apple? Take the Big Unit's meltdown and multiply it by at least 84.
The Redskins Who would benefit: Strong-armed quarterback Patrick Ramsey would be in heaven if the Skins could pull off a trade for Moss. The only person who might be happier than Patrick would be running back Clinton Portis, as opposing defenses would no longer be able to focus entirely on stopping the running game.
Portis' keeper stock would rebound to its previous heights. Keeper league risk takers might take a shot with Ramsey, but he wouldn't crack the top-20 quarterback rankings without a strong showing in preseason. Despite Ramsey's questionable track record, Moss would still be a top-five receiver.
Why it could happen: Redskins' owner Daniel Snyder has stars in his eyes and would love to pose for pictures with Moss and Portis. Plus, Redskins' head coach Joe Gibbs has made it clear that he isn't going to be coaching for long, and Moss would give him a chance to win immediately.
Why it might not happen: The Redskins took great pride in putting together a strong defense last year. Are they ready to give up a defensive starter (or two) and a draft pick (or two) for the league's most notorious problem child? Gibbs wants to win immediately, but Randy's list of past transgressions might cause him to pull a Danny Glover by saying, "I'm too old for this?"
The Raiders Who would benefit: Unlike some of the other quarterbacks mentioned, Raiders' starter Kerry Collins has the arm to connect with Moss on the fly. The No. 2 receiver would benefit to some extent, although former Vikings' receiver D'Wayne Bates is proof that playing wing man for Randy doesn't guarantee success.
Collins is too old and unsteady to invest heavily in, but Moss would remain at least a top-five wideout. Our biggest concern with this destination is that he doesn't take kindly to losing, and it looks like it could take Oakland at least one more season to get it together.
Why it could happen: Al Davis has been on the verge of keeling over for last 15 years, so he probably feels a sense of urgency. Moss, the reigning king of the NFL bad boys, would be a perfect fit in an organization that takes pride having such players on the roster.
Why it might not happen: What can the Raiders give the Vikings in return? The No. 7 pick is a nice start, but Oakland is too thin defensively to give up the starting player (or two) the Vikings are looking for. The Raiders lack veteran leadership and Norv Turner doesn't seem to be the type of coach who can keep Randy in check.
Summary Moss' keeper league owners should spend the offseason praying that the Vikings decide to keep him. Just because Terrell Owens benefited from a change of scenery doesn't mean Moss would be as fortunate. You have to remember that T.O. moved into a situation where he had a better quarterback and a stronger supporting cast.
Frankly, Pennington is the only quarterback on this list of teams who is even worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Culpepper. The Jets is an intriguing possibility because they would have plenty of talent to surround Moss with, which teams such as the Cardinals, Ravens, Redskins, and Raiders simply don't possess.
From the Vikings, losing offensive coordinator Scott Linehan is enough of a problem. Head coach Mike Tice stayed in-house and hired Steve Loney to replace Linehan so that he could keep the same offense in place. If Moss goes, Loney would be forced to retool the entire playbook, and Culpepper might struggle. Nate Burleson has emerged as a solid No. 2 receiver, but he lacks the speed necessary for the No. 1 spot.
Good article, Lung. The author likes Pennington more than I do. I would tend to think Ramsay or Collins might be a better fit with Moss. None of the names mentioned are in Culpepper's class but few QBs are.