Thursday, February 10, 2005

Despite Vikings' Willingness to Trade, Moss Likely Staying Put

In all of sports, there are perhaps only a handful of athletes whom are off-limits for trade purposes. No matter his age or declining skills, Brett Favre, for example, likely is untouchable in Green Bay, likewise, Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, Tim Duncan in San Antonio, and Lebron James in Cleveland. There likely are other untouchables, but you get the point--the set is not very large.

In Minnesota, the set of untouchable athletes is even smaller. One could make a case that the Twins currently consider Johan Santana and Joe Mauer untouchable, but we know that's not really the case. While the Twins covet Santana and Mauer's prospects, they would trade either for the right combination of players, picks, and salary relief.

Among Minnesota teams, then, only the Timberwolves sport a true untouchable in Kevin Garnett not only because he is the identity of the organization but because his escalating salary makes him virtually untradeable. After that, there are no untouchables among Minnesota athletes.

What?! No more untouchables among Minnesota athletes after Kevin Garnett? Heresy!

What about Randy Moss?!

Out of Dementia

For those who have only recently joined the ranks of Vikings' fans, here is a litte 411--the Vikings are ready to move Moss for the right combination of players and picks. Tice has identified this as the position of the organization by his very response to questions regarding Moss' trade eligibility. As Tice commonly does when confronted with a question, the answer to which he knows he cannot reveal, Tice responded to questions regarding whether Moss was on the trading block by avoiding the question. Instead of answering the question, Tice simply stated that he liked Moss.


Coach, the question was whether the Vikings are pursuing a trade of Moss. "I really like Moss" sounds a bit like Tice's answer when initially asked why Moss left the field early against Washington. Tice's response? "I really like Randy. He's a good kid." We later found out, of course, that what Tice meant was that Randy was a jackass for leaving the game early, regardless of how putrid the Vikings' performance and how dunderheaded the offensive playcalling was against Washington.

By responding to inquiries regarding the Vikings' interest in trading Moss with a similar apperation, Tice has told us all we need to know--the Vikings are interested in trading Moss. What Tice cannot betray by his signalling, however, is for what the Vikings are willing to trade Moss.

Why Randy is Probably Staying in Minnesota

Local media outlets had a field day on Thursday noting recent comments by Daunte Culpepper that purportedly suggested that Moss was a blight in the lockerroom and that the Vikings needed a change. In fact, those comments appear greatly distorted.

One comment began with Culpepper essentially stating that he hoped it would work out with Randy in Minnesota. The other, by a national sportswriter, implied that Culpepper was fed up with Moss as a teammate and that Culpepper was ready to move on without Moss.

What Culpepper was referring to in the latter comment was Moss' penchant for pouting when things don't go Moss' way. Culpepper simply stated that he was no longer interested in approaching Moss in such situations to soothe things over and Culpepper implied that it was time for Moss to grow up a bit. What Culpepper did not state, nor even imply by his comment--though the national writer suggested that Culpepper did--is that he is no longer interested in playing on the same team as Moss. That's simply ridiculous.

But even if Culpepper were disgruntled with Moss, Moss still carries more weight on the club than does Culpepper because Moss is a more valuable football commodity. Even more significant, with respect to whether Moss is likely to leave Minnesota via trade this off-season, is the fact that nobody appears terribly interested in giving the Vikings fair value for Moss at this point.

Undoubtedly, GMs around the league are waiting to see if Minnesota is looking to dump Moss or merely gauging genuine interest. At present, GMs appear to be betting on the former, a hedge that undoubtedly is fostered and perpetuated by reports such as the national writer's report on Culpepper's comments about Moss.

But the Vikings will not, and need not trade Moss for less than Moss' full value. And, as I have discussed in previous columns, that value to Minnesota is, at a minimum, two legitimate starters and a first-round pick or a legitimate starter and two first-round picks. That's the deal. Take it or leave it. The Vikings will do fine on the deal either way.

Local Nonsense

Some local commentators have suggested some sublimely ridiculous deals that would send Moss to other teams for virtually nothing. The two most prominent propositions have Moss going to Miami for cornerback Patrick Surtain and Miami's first-round pick. Essentially, that gives Minnesota Miami's first-round pick, number two overall, and a player that Miami is likely to cut loose for salary cap purposes. Clearly, this makes no sense for the Vikings.

The Vikings can wait on Surtain and pick him up if and when the Dolphins cut him loose. As for the second overall pick, the Vikings don't need it. What they need is a 10-12 pick--a pick at which the Vikings will be able to land a legitimate defensive starter at a much lower price tag than it would cost to sign even a too-highly drafted defensive player at number 2.

Prognosis: Bad trade. No deal.

The other suggested trade is one with Oakland for Charles Woodson and the Raiders' first-round pick. Again, why? The Raiders are ready to cut ties with Woodson and the Vikings can get him as a free agent. Moreover, if the Vikings are looking to dump Moss for personality reasons, why would they want to add the even more cancerous Woodson?

Prognosis: Very bad trade. No deal.

Several other idiotic trades have been raised by the rumor mongers--such as Moss to Cleveland for Lee Suggs and Cleveland's first-round pick, number three overall--and all make about as much sense as the Miami and Oakland propositions. Clearly, like GMs around the league, many local media members are undervaluing Moss' contribution to the Vikings. Looking at Moss as an immature player, which he very often is, has a tendency to create such cloudy perspectives.

I've said it before, I'm saying it now, and I likely will say it again. Moss is tradeable. But if the Vikings are going to trade Moss, they need to get substantial value for him. If that means waiting out the current disposition of GMs that the Vikings are so desperate to trade Moss to rid themselves of a malcontent, so be it. If it means keeping Moss and building the defense through free agency, that works too.

Up Next: Stadium Issues Re-Emerge. Is Glen thinking of going it alone?


Anonymous said...

I think the price, 2 firsts and a starter or two starters and a first, is right on. In fact, the only deal other than that, that would be worth it to the Vikes, would be Moss to Washington for their first and Sean Taylor. And that deal won't happen for several reasons, salary cap issues and Joe Gibbs' comments being two of them.

Anonymous said...

After Culpepper's comments reported today, I think a deal for Moss is dead, unless the Vikes get stupid and dump him for low value. Any GM who reads what Culpepper said is going to think "Why should I trade value for this guy if his own quarterback has run out of patience with him?"

Vikes Geek said...

What Culpepper said, in essence, is that he is no longer concerned with soothing Moss' ego. Culpepper also made clear that he can continue to play with Moss. With that said, Moss arguably is still more valuable to the Vikings' offense than is Culpepper and it is still difficult to say that this is Culpepper's team. Which means that the Vikings' organization likely will take Culpepper's comments with a grain of salt--i.e., don't look for the Vikings to move or not move Moss on the basis of what Culpepper has to say about Moss (Culpepper likely would have said the same of Cris Carter had he been as outspoken when Carter was in Minnesota). And what Culpepper has said about Moss, others have said of similarly situated receivers, such as TO. Just two weeks ago, Donovan McNabb contended (absurdly) that TO was not the difference between this year's and last year's teams.

As for whether other teams would touch Moss, plenty of teams are interested, including Oakland, Miami, Cleveland, and Baltimore. Baltimore is trying to get Moss for a song right now, contending that the Vikings' asking price is "too high." Memo to Ozzie Newsome--your offer is too low if it does not include a combination of three picks and players that yields three starters next season. Take it or leave it.


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