Pats go for broke (cont.)
Posted: Sunday April 29, 2007 1:16PM; Updated: Monday April 30, 2007 1:08PM
There should be no naivety about this move to acquire Moss. Without a doubt, Moss presents a risk to the team-first philosophy that Belichick stresses above all else in New England. It could certainly backfire, but I think it's worth the gamble, especially since it came only at the price of one of the Patriots' two fourth-round picks in this year's draft (the 110th overall selection).
New England is obviously betting that the acquisition of an Oakland receiver works out better this year than a similar move it made last year, when the receiver-strapped Pats traded for Doug Gabriel in the preseason in the midst of Deion Branch's holdout. Gabriel made a few plays for the Patriots last season, but wound up being released in December amid rumors that he was unreliable and often late for team meetings. In other words, less than a prototypical Patriot. In a not completely unrelated footnote, Moss and Gabriel were the closest of friends in Oakland. Supply your own summation.
The receiver depth chart in New England is officially standing-room-only at this point, but don't let that little detail hold much sway. New England traded for Miami's Wes Welker in early March, and signed free agents Donte' Stallworth and Kelley Washington, but those last two deals both can be one-year commitments the way the contracts were structured. I'd say the news of Moss' arrival could mean worse things for incumbent Patriots receivers Reche Caldwell and Jabar Gaffney, and less potential playing time for 2006 second-round pick Chad Jackson.
But in New England, it's all about now anyway. The Moss trade will only feed the perception that perhaps Belichick is gearing up for one more Super Bowl title in an attempt to go out on top. Speculation has swirled for most of the past year that Belichick might be done in Foxboro after the 2007 season. Either he's ready for a different challenge and a monstrous payday elsewhere, or he just feels he's close to having maxed out his time in New England and wants to leave on his own terms. Whatever the case, a fourth Super Bowl ring would be a perfect capper if Belichick is mulling over the notion of becoming an ex-Patriot.
Apparently the belief in Foxboro is that the Patriots would be closer to that elusive fourth ring with Moss on their side. I happen to agree. But no matter how you view it, you can't deny that the Pats are going for it. Meriweather and Moss just further cement the obvious: They're not messing around in New England these days.