The Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots were heading in very different directions following the 2006 season. The Raiders were coming off of a two-win year after winning four games the season before, while the Patriots had just made it to the AFC Championship game, where they lost to the Colts.
With Randy Moss clearly unhappy about his situation in Oakland, the Raiders opened up the phones for trade offers. The Patriots, among other teams, came calling and pried the star receiver from Oakland for a measly fourth-round pick.
Moss and the Patriots were a perfect fit together with Tom Brady finally landing a No. 1 receiver, while New England’s culture helped straighten out Moss' lack of focus.
In the first part of our 10-day series reviewing the NFL's biggest trades, we break down the Patriots deal for Moss with six facts you didn’t know about the swap.
Getty ImagesJed Jacobsohn
Moss was more productive than the Raiders’ top two receivers combined in 2007
The Raiders had a very difficult time replacing Moss on offense, which was something even the most clueless people could have seen coming. In 2007, the Raiders’ first season after dealing Moss, they found it impossible to fill his shoes. Not even two players combined could replace his production.
Ronald Curry and Jerry Porter, the Raiders’ top two receivers that year, totaled just 1,422 yards and 10 touchdowns. Compare those numbers to Moss’ 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns and you can understand why the Raiders won only four games that year.
More incredibly, he had more touchdown receptions (23) with the Patriots in his first season than the Raiders had touchdown passes (17), and it wasn’t really close. You just can’t replace that sort of impact, even with two mediocre players.
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The Raiders selected John Bowie with the pick they acquired
Remember John Bowie? No? Well, don't be too hard on yourself because he was an absolute flop in the NFL. The defensive back out of Cincinnati was drafted in the fourth round with the 110th overall pick – the selection the Raiders received in exchange for Moss. He played just two games in 2007, missed all of 2008 due to a knee injury and returned to play three games in 2009. After that, he bounced around from Cleveland to the Hartford Colonials to the Bengals from 2010 to 2011 but never played another game in the NFL.
Moss, on the other hand, played all 16 games each year from 2007-09, catching 250 passes for 3,765 yards and 47 touchdowns in that span. But surely, the lowly Raiders couldn’t have used that sort of production at wide receiver, right?
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He won more games with the Patriots in 2007 than in his previous three years combined
Moss had a great deal of success early in his career, winning 10-plus games in each of his first three seasons in the NFL. Then, things went south. He had just one winning season from 2001-06 with the Vikings and Raiders, quickly learning what it’s like to lose as a pro.
With the Patriots, however, his winning ways returned. He didn’t lose a game with his new team until the Super Bowl following the 2007 season, going a perfect 18-0 to start his Patriots tenure. In fact, his 18 wins in his first season in New England were more than his previous three years combined. He won just 14 games from 2004-06, including four- and two-win seasons in his two years with the Raiders.
It was quite the turnaround for a player who had become accustomed to losing, and it showed how great Patriots coach Bill Belichick is at maximizing talent from veterans who struggled elsewhere.
Additionally, Moss nearly had more receiving yards (1,493) in 2007 with the Patriots than he had in two years with the Raiders (1,558). He did have 12 more touchdowns in that span, however.
The Packers nearly traded for Moss during the draft
The Packers were coming off of a disappointing season in 2006, winning just eight games and failing to make the playoffs for the second year in a row. With Moss available via trade, Brett Favre wanted Green Bay to make a move. He really wanted the Packers to acquire a dangerous weapon like Moss to help them rebound from a mediocre season and believed the receiver could have fit under the salary cap.
"It is disappointing," Favre said. "We could have gotten him for less money than New England did. He wanted to play in Green Bay for the amount of money we would have paid him. It [was] well worth the risk."
The Packers did try to trade for Moss, engaging in talks with the Raiders during the draft, just as the Patriots did. It was reported that the Packers were unwilling to part ways with a fourth-round pick, which was obviously the necessary compensation to land Moss. Green Bay took offensive lineman Allen Barbre with its fourth-round pick, and he went on to have a decade-long career as a journeyman after the Packers were finished with him in three years.
It was also reported that Favre requested a trade from the Packers as a result of the team’s reluctance to make a trade for Moss, upsetting the veteran quarterback at the time. Favre would be traded one year later, but that was a different situation.
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Tom Brady restructured his contract to make room for Moss
A little-known nugget from the Moss trade was Brady’s willingness to make room for the star receiver. After all, who wouldn’t want a potential future Hall of Famer on the roster?
As it turns out, Brady happily restructured his contract to allow Moss’ newly reworked contract to fit under the salary cap back in 2007. That’s because the Patriots required Moss to agree to a new deal before any trade was executed. Brady helped make that happen by doing his part, opening up space for the veteran receiver.
Moss seemingly had no problem lowering his cap number for the Patriots, citing their winning ways as a reason for his willingness to do so.
"I've made a lot of money and I still have money in the bank. So by me coming to an organization such as the New England Patriots, why would money be a factor?" Moss said at the time.
If not for Brady opening up cap space for Moss – although it wasn’t a pay cut – the Patriots may not have been able to land arguably their best receiver in franchise history.
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Moss accidentally cussed out Bill Belichick after the trade
Moss was obviously very excited to land with the Patriots after enduring a brutal 2-14 season with the Raiders in 2006. The excitement came after the trade was official, though. Before it, he was skeptical of the potential for a deal.
In fact, he was so leery of a trade that he actually cussed out Belichick the first time he got on the phone with him. Why? Because he thought the call was a prank until Belichick insisted that it was very real.
“I got a phone call and it was Bill Belichick. I thought it was a friend or somebody playing with my phone. I actually cussed him out. When he kept saying it was Bill Belichick, I knew he was serious. I started being apologetic because I had cussed the man. Then he told me the Raiders were thinking about trading me. I had to be in Foxborough by 10 p.m. Eastern, or the trade would void. So, I just did everything that I could possibly do to get up there by 10 p.m.”
Not exactly the best way to start a new relationship, but it’s pretty safe to say Belichick got over it. Moss helped the Patriots go 16-0 and reach the Super Bowl, only to come up one win shy of a perfect season.