The Minnesota Vikings have had enough of Randy Moss and have tentatively agreed to trade the highly productive but highly controversial wide receiver to the Oakland Raiders next week.
The deal would send linebacker Napoleon Harris and two draft picks, including the seventh overall choice in this year's draft, from the Raiders to the Vikings for the 28-year-old Moss, a five-time Pro Bowl selection. The NFL's trading and free agency period begins next Wednesday, and the trade cannot be officially completed before then.
The Minnesota Vikings have cut ties with flamboyant wide receiver Randy Moss by trading him to the Oakland Raiders for linebacker Napoleon Harris and draft picks.
(Ann Heisenfelt - AP)
One source familiar with deliberations, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the deal has not yet been announced, said yesterday that some final details were still to be worked out but that the teams had agreed in principle to the trade.
"You never say it's done until everyone signs off on it and it gets announced with the guy holding up a jersey," the source said. "But everything is in place."
Moss's agent, Dante DiTrapano, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the clubs had agreed to the deal and it will be made official on Wednesday.
"In speaking with Moss, although he has a lot of ties to Minnesota and did not particularly want to be traded, he's very excited with the possibility of playing for [Raiders owner] Al Davis and being a part of the Raider tradition," DiTrapano told the newspaper.
The move comes even with league approval of the Vikings' proposed sale from Red McCombs to Arizona businessman Reggie Fowler still pending. Fowler had said publicly in recent days that Moss would not be traded. But, under NFL rules, McCombs continues to run the Vikings until the sale is approved by at least 24 of the league's 32 team owners. Questions have been raised publicly about whether Fowler has the personal wealth to be able to structure the approximately $625 million deal to the NFL's liking.
Moss is one of the league's most gifted players. In his seven seasons with the Vikings, he has averaged 82 catches for 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns per year. But he is coming off a 2004 season in which he was plagued by a hamstring injury that caused him to miss three full games and most of two others, and he finished with career-low totals of 49 receptions for 767 yards. He still managed 13 touchdown catches, only three off the league lead.
The Vikings listened to trade offers for Moss, off and on, for more than a year. The Miami Dolphins inquired about trading for him last offseason but were told then by the Vikings that the asking price was three first-round draft picks. It became increasingly clear in recent weeks that the Vikings would listen more seriously to trade offers and lower their demands this offseason. But club officials denied that they were shopping Moss, and the proposed sale of the franchise presented a potential stumbling block.
Moss is a dominant player when healthy and properly motivated, but his work habits and antics on and off the field regularly have gotten him into trouble. He walked off the field with two seconds remaining in the Vikings' loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field to end this past regular season, and was fined $10,000 by the league for pretending to moon the crowd at Lambeau Field as part of a touchdown celebration during the Vikings' triumph at Green Bay in the NFC playoffs. He has been fined regularly by the league throughout his career.
In September 2002, he was arrested for an incident in downtown Minneapolis in which he allegedly pushed a traffic-control agent with his car. He later pleaded guilty to two minor traffic charges as part of a plea agreement in which a marijuana-possession charge and two other traffic counts stemming from the incident were dropped, and he was sentenced to 30 days in jail, fined $1,200 and ordered to perform 40 hours of community service.
Davis has a long history of collecting other teams' renegade players and winning with them. Wideout Jerry Porter agreed to a contract extension this week to remain with the club rather than become an unrestricted free agent next week, and Moss and Porter would give quarterback Kerry Collins two dangerous receiving targets to revive the Raiders' downfield passing game. The Raiders are 9-23 in two seasons since suffering a lopsided Super Bowl defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They were 5-11 this past season under first-year coach Norv Turner.
The Raiders would inherit the four seasons remaining on Moss's eight-year, $75-million contract, which pays him a $7.25 million salary next season. Moss's departure would leave Nate Burleson as the Vikings' top wide receiver. But they would have additional salary cap space to pursue a wideout in free agency, and they could draft a wide receiver with one of their two first-round picks in April. Many NFL executives expect at least two wideouts, Michigan's Braylon Edwards and the University of Southern California's Mike Williams, to be among the first 10 players drafted.
The other draft choice that the Vikings would get in the trade would be a late-round selection, either this year or next year. Harris, who turns 26 on Friday, has spent three seasons with the Raiders since being a first-round draft choice out of Northwestern in 2002.
NFL Notes: The Dallas Cowboys completed a three-year contract with free agent quarterback Drew Bledsoe, who said during a news conference that he'd been told by Coach Bill Parcells that he would be the starter ahead of Drew Henson and Tony Romo. . . .
The Dolphins released four players, including quarterback Jay Fiedler. . . . The New England Patriots released four players, including cornerback Earthwind Moreland.