Here in the NFL hinterland -- where ESPN thinks nothing is going on even though a special teams coordinator got fired four games into the season after an epic meltdown of his units and Bill Parcells is forever on everyone's lips because he's leaving one minute and running things to the point he's dissing Chad Henne the next -- we watch with interest today's Randy Moss trade.
Us boring folk down here on the porch fanning ourselves and drinking lemonade have two ways of looking at the trade that just happened in the media sophisticated Northeast because its ripple effects can be felt here:
We can be freaked at the fact the Patriots, a division rival, are about to get much stronger. The Patriots are obviously in rebuild mode despite their 3-1 record and we know that because one does not jettison an elite deep threat receiver no matter his contract status, unless one has a panoramic view of what's happening. Simply, one does not trade an elite player if you think you can win a championship this year. Trading away elite players, you see, diminish your chances.
So, the Patriots are reloading and that reported third-round pick they got for Moss is troublesome because it gets added to the Fort Knox of picks the team is storing for 2011. Next April, the Patriots have a full complement of picks plus Oakland's first round pick, Carolina's second-round pick, Minnesota's third-round pick and Denver's fourth-round pick.
To put it midly, the Patriots have an opportunity to clean up at the next draft.
And that's bad news for the Dolphins.
But there is the other side of the proverbial coin to consider. That side is about today and right now.
The short view of this trade is that the Patriots are looking off into the future and missing that which is right in front of their collective noses. Note to Bill Belichick: The 2010 season still has 12 games remaining. Your team is 3-1 and virtually tied for the AFC East lead. Tom Brady isn't getting any younger. Wes Welker is a nice receiver but he isn't a deep threat and Brandon Tate is uproven. So you just got weaker today, hoodieman.
The timing of this trade is such that Moss will play against New England's chief divisional rival -- the New York Jets -- this coming Monday night. But guess what? The timing of this trade also puts Moss on the Vikings on Oct. 31 when they travel to Foxboro, Mass. So the Patriots just helped get an upcoming opponent that much stronger even as they diminished their ability to attack secondaries in the short-term.
One can understand if the Patriots were forced to make this trade because Moss was being a pain in the posterior and turning into more of a locker room liability than dividend. But I am close to one of the parties involved in this trade and this NFL source tells me Moss was not in any way a problem in the Pats locker room or meeting rooms. Moss and Belichick never had words with one another, either, I'm told.
A couple of weeks ago, Belichick explained to Moss he didn't want him complaining about not having a contract after the season-opening win and Moss basically answered, "Yes sir. Understood."
This Tuesday there were reports Moss had a confrontation of some sort with Belichick. I'm told by my source Moss didn't even speak to Belichick after failing to catch a pass against the Dolphins -- and not because he was mad at the coach, but simply because he didn't have need or desire to say anything by way of complaint.
So it's not like New England rid itself of a cancer. It did rid itself of an enigmatic but also elite player.
So over here in the hinterland, we wonder if that's good for us? Or bad for us?
[Practice update: Jake Long was not at practice today. Not working was John Jerry, Lionel Dotson and Jared Odrick. Channing Crowder was working during the period open to the media, to what extent -- full or limited -- I cannot say with certainty.]
[Update: Patriots coach Bill Belichick released a statement about the Moss trade through the team:
"Over the course of the past several months, I have spoken with Randy and his representative about Randy’s place on our team and his future in football. Consistent with my dealings with Randy from the day we acquired him through our conversation this morning it has been honest, thoughtful and with great mutual respect.
"While I will keep private the details of internal conversations with players and staff suffice it to say that many things were taken into consideration before making the trade. In this business, there are complex and often difficult decisions but it is my responsibility to make them based on what I feel is best for our football team in both the short term and long term.
"I am grateful for the opportunity to have coached Randy Moss and aside from facing him as an opponent. I wish him the very best for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career.”]