Posted by: Nate | March 6, 2008

Why the Patriots had to re-sign Randy Moss

Despite their undefeated regular season and juggernaut offense, the Patriots still lost in the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. If this off-season wasn’t going to be excruciating enough for them after that performance all the questions and problems that would develop from free agency are making for an interesting looking team next year in New England.

Everyone knew going into last year that Asante Samuel was unhappy about being franchised and would be looking to get a payday in 2008. Everyone also knew that is the Randy Moss experiment worked out that he wouldn’t be willing to play for a $3 million dollar base salary with performances incentives OR on a one-year deal (aka franchising him would only make him mad). It is also public knowledge that the Patriots do not like to spend the big dollars on players and look to pick up other teams cast-offs at a discount and succeed in the draft. With Samuel and Moss headlining a large class of free-agents this spring from New England, we knew we wouldn’t be able to get them all back, but which ones would (and could) we keep?

I’ve been arguing all along that Asante Samuel is invaluable to this team and that he should get signed before Moss or anyone else. There are several reasons for this, in my opinion. Firstly, I think that defense is more important than offense and having a shutdown corner like Samuel can neutralize a key cog in the opposing team’s offense and oftentimes alter their game plan as a result. Also, having a guy as good as him playing CB gives you the option of going with an older veteran at safety who may have lost a step (Rodney Harrison) or a younger player looking to gain experience (Brandon Merriweather) since you can rely on Samuel to do his job well and often without help.

Secondly, Tom Brady has demonstrated an ability to succeed without a juggernaut offense because of his excellent decision making ability in the pocket and his pinpoint accuracy, so while Moss is valuable he isn’t as valuable as Samuel is to the defense. I felt that without Moss next year we could be a successful offensive team running the ball with Maroney/Morris/Faulk/Evans and passing to Watson, Welker, Chad Jackson, Jabar Gaffney, Kelley Washington and whomever else the Pats picked up to play WR. Obviously the offensive focus shifts a bit towards the running game and you lose the homerun threat in Moss, but there is no reason that that offense, coached by Belichick couldn’t be above average.

After a few days of free agency, the Pats had been raided and the cupboards were looking a little bare. Samuel signed a lucrative deal with the Eagles on day 1 (reportedly 6 years/$57 million) that New England would not have offered him, nor matched. Randall Gay signed with the Saints and Donte Stallworth headed to Cleveland. One of the top pass-rushing linebackers on the team in Roosevelt Colvin was released for salary cap reasons and safety Eugene Wilson is expected to leave in the coming days. Needless to say, a defense that was already aging and had some holes got worse and last year’s record setting offense was down a deep threat. This, in addition to not spending the money on Samuel, necessitated the Moss signing.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I LOVE Randy Moss. I think he is one of the most exciting, gifted receivers in league history and when he is happy with his situation and surrounded by competent players he will produce at a high level. The extra dimension he gives this offense is also something that is hard to quantify, but let me just say that Welker probably doesn’t catch 112 passes last year if Moss isn’t getting doubled every play. So I meant no disrespect to Moss by saying the Pats should have gone after Samuel over him. Just the way the defense was looking after the season, and especially now, Samuel’s value to this team was very high. Obviously not $9.5 million a year high, which is what the Eagles gave him [for comparison, Moss is getting $9/yr for 3 years]. Given how the beginning of the free agency played out for NE, they HAD to re-sign Moss. Losing all those defensive players and big names with your line backing core already old and getting older, you need to playmaking ability of Moss and the potency and options he brings to the offense.

The Patriots now have a number of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball, but they hold the 7th overall pick which they could use to select a LB to replace Colvin an give Seau and Bruschi (should they decide to return and not retire) less of a role, keeping them fresher. They could also trade the pick down for more picks and then address their defensive back needs and free agency is still open, so there is always the option of filling some holes that way. It will be hard to replace Asante from a talent standpoint, this is a given, especially if the aging linebackers are to be addressed as well. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day and through the draft, shrewd trades and future signings I am confident that the Patriots will field a strong team again next year. Besides, as Randy Moss stated on his website [] “we have some unfinished business to take care of.”

Amen to that.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: