Changing My Tune On Claiming Randy Moss

Steve O Speak

From the moment I heard Randy Moss would be available, I knew there was a chance that the Redskins would be interested in claiming him. The problem was I was adamant against bringing him in, despite the fact it would only cost the Skins money (not players/picks). In my opinion the baggage Moss brings outweighs the positives.

There is no denying that Moss is a talent, when he wants to be. He is big and strong, while at the same time possessing exceptional deep speed.  He could be one of the elite receivers in the game, the problem is of course that he doesn’t always want to be playing at the highest level he can. And to be frank, if he is unhappy in New England with Brady, Welker and Aaron Hernandez around him, and in Minnesota with Favre, Havin and Peterson, is he really going to be content in Washington with McNabb, Santana Moss and Cooley? *Side note:  He is almost worth acquiring for the Law Firm name our receivers would gain (Moss, Moss, and Cooley).

It is also worrisome to bring in another wide receiver, when it is becoming abundantly clear that Donovan McNabb isn’t on the same page with the receivers already on the team. I think either by his work ethic (or lack there of) or not having a good repoire with McNabb, Moss’ effectiveness and impact on the Redskins will likely be minimal.

There is also the chance that given his issues with authority, he creates a huge rift with Mike Shanahan and the coaching staff. We have already seen two such rifts, with Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb, and in both cases Shanahan mishandled the situation (still is in the case of McNabb). In each of those cases the players weren’t doing anything detrimental to the team (well maybe McNabb’s play, but some of that is on the coaching staff). Unlike Moss who will openly challenge the coach and just flat out not run routes during games. If Moss isn’t happy it will only create another issue for the Redskins, and further set this team back.

Now though, I’m beginning to change my tune on acquiring Moss for two primary reasons (maybe in part because I see him being awarded to the Redskins if they put in a claim). The first reason is the compensatory draft pick the Redskins will receive when Moss would leave this offseason (Note they wouldn’t get it until the 2012 draft). The second reason is give this team, and the Kool-aid drinkers no possible excuse for the Redskins season.

Let’s start with the 2nd reason. Look I’m a Die-hard Redskins fan and ‘Every move they make, Every Step they take, I’ll be Watching them’, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to applaud their moves when they hurt the long-term success of the team (i.e. vastly overpaying for Donovan McNabb, bad drafting, not signing quality free agents etc.). I’m happy the Redskins are 4-4, and have already matched their win total of a season ago, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend that this is some great power house of a team. And honestly after another embarrassing loss to a bottom tier team, how could I? I want the Redskins to succeed this season, but I’m not going to just hand them this season because they made a few cosmetic changes.

While we can talk all we want about the NFC being wide open this year, at this point 8 teams have a higher winning percentage than we do (though some haven’t played a full 8 games), and the Rams (who beat us by two touchdowns) are equal to us. Anyway you cut it, we need to win probably 6 of our last 8 games to make the Playoffs. Teams like Tampa might not be the most dominate, but they do have a better record than us (and no longer look like an easy win later this season). Six wins won’t be easy going forward, and I’d like to think we didn’t sacrifice all these draft picks just so we could go 7-9 or 8-8 and be left with nothing next year. Next year by the way is the key to my ‘fanhood’. Because I’m not interested in a 1 year wonder, I want a sustainable team that is competitive 8 out of 10 years (Patriots, Eagles, Steelers, Chargers etc.). One playoff run every three years doesn’t really mean much, especially since we are never ‘built’ to compete.

Well, in my eyes this next season is crucial. The Redskins have numerous big time free agents such as Donovan McNabb, Jamaal Brown, Rocky McIntosh, Carlos Rogers (Santana Moss might have an out clause in his contract, though that’s not a definite), as well as significant contributors like Golston, Doughty, etc. In addition to their free agents you can expect to see Clinton Portis cut given his contract and Andre Carter cut or traded given his ineffectiveness in the 3-4 system (hopefully they aren’t dumb enough to trade Haynesworth). There are a number of major decisions needed to be made this offseason, and Washington will need to decided whether or not they are sustainable contenders or if they need to rebuild. I think with Randy Moss in the fold, you will have answered the question if this offense is just 1 big receiver away from being effective.

If Moss comes in and this offense actually starts producing, then you resign as many of these players as you can. After you bring them back, you make finding a big receiver your top priority, either through the draft or free agency. If Moss comes in and this offense still is stagnant, and you miss the playoffs, then I think that answers questions as well. I think you need to take a long look at the feasibility of resigning McNabb long term if you still need to add so many pieces to make this offense work (not to mention the needs on defense).

The other reason why I’m now interested in Moss, is summed up best by Adam Schefter on Twitter: “One more reason to claim WR Randy Moss: team that loses him this off-season in free agency could get back a compensatory draft pick.” Now the logic behind Compensatory Picks is a bit convoluted, but the basic gist of it is this: If you lose better and/or more free agents than what you signed you will get extra draft picks. Up to 32 compensatory picks are awarded each year, and each team can receive a max of 4. They are awarded at the end of the 3rd-7th rounds, but the number in each round is up to the league each year. Given Moss’ talent and likely contract it could end up being a pretty good compensatory pick (not to mention all the Redskins other free agents) even if the Redskins went out and signed a Braylon Edwards or someone of that ilk (if they strikeout in free agency they will get either more picks, or better ones). Given the number of draft picks the Redskins have given up already, getting a late 3rd round or 4th round pick for a half of a year of Moss isn’t a bad deal (obviously the pick isn’t a guarantee and is predicated on what the Skins do this offseason as to the exact placement).

For me the draft pick compensation and the ability to really show the Redskins which direction this team is going in, now outweighs the potential harmful effects of having Randy Moss on the roster. And who knows maybe Moss will make the Redskins better the rest of the season if he decides to play hard. I wouldn’t count on it, but now at least there is a consolation prize if he doesn’t pan out.

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