Belichick: Moss trade wasn’t easy
Wes Welker may become more of a leader. Vince Wilfork doesn’t
know if the team will be better or worse. Bill Belichick says he
has confidence in all his players.
The New England Patriots moved on without Randy Moss on Thursday
when they practiced for the first time since one of the NFL’s best
receivers ever was traded to the Minnesota Vikings.
Some players were concerned that a friend was gone but noted
that football is a business. Others chatted and joked as if it were
a typical day. And Belichick spoke positively about the player who
said he didn’t expect to be with the Patriots once his contract
expired after this season.
”Randy was really a pleasure to coach. I enjoyed having him on
our team,” Belichick said. ”It was a difficult decision but one
that I feel was in the best interests of the football team. … I
wish Randy the absolute best.”
Several factors contributed to Wednesday’s trade, Belichick
said, but didn’t specify them.
”I would say there was never any incident or discipline problem
with Randy,” he said. ”There never has been one with me in four
years and it certainly wasn’t about contract and money.”
Belichick did send Moss and three other players home last year
when they showed up late for team meetings during a snowstorm that
had traffic backed up on Dec. 9.
Now that Moss is ”back home” in Minnesota, as he said at a
news conference Thursday, how will the Patriots offense
”I have a lot of confidence in our total team, all of our
players,” Belichick said.
Welker is their only proven receiver. Brandon Tate, a
third-round draft pick last year, steps into a starting spot.
Rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez has the speed and shiftiness of a
wide receiver but lacks experience.
So how can the Patriots, who received a third-round choice in
next year’s draft for Moss, be better this year without him?
”I’m not going to sit here and say ‘no’ or ‘yeah.’ Time will
tell,” said Wilfork, a nose tackle. ”I’m happy with this team,
with everybody that’s around here, young and old. … We’re getting
ready for Baltimore. We’ll see what happens without Randy.
”We never had problems with Randy.”
The Patriots are 3-1 and tied for the AFC East lead. They have a
bye week and play their next game Oct. 17 at home against the
Baltimore Ravens (2-2).
That’s when Welker should see how defenses guard him without a
deep threat like Moss drawing plenty of attention. They joined the
Patriots together in 2007 and, in the first three years, Welker led
the NFL with 346 receptions.
”Things may change a little bit, but we have some fast guys
that can definitely go deep and stretch the field,” Welker said.
”Obviously, Randy was one of the best in the game to do it.”
Without Moss, 33, the Patriots’ most experienced receiver is
He could play ”maybe more of a leadership role as far as the
receivers (go),” Welker said. ”I’m the older guy in there now and
just trying to bring these guys along.”
After the first game of the season, Moss had his agent, Joel
Segal, ask Belichick for a trade, the Boston Herald reported
”That was kind of the difficult thing just because he was the
guy always giving pep talks before the game, halftime, after the
game,” Welker said, ”but, at the same time, he’s doing what’s
best for him. It’s a business and you’ve just got to just kind of
roll with it. We have a sign that says, ‘if you don’t want to be
here, you don’t have to be here.’ And I guess, I’m not really sure
the scenario or anything like that, but it’s kind of the way things
Belichick said that when he spoke with Moss on Wednesday, the
conversation was ”honest, open, very forthright,” just as their
discussions had been since Moss joined the team.
”There was no one thing” that led to the trade, Belichick
said. ”Part of it was just the personal relationship with Randy.
And in talking to him, some of the feelings and things that he
expressed that he and I talked openly about, when all was said and
done and it all was put together, I felt like that was the best
At his news conference in Eden Prairie, Minn., Moss was asked if
he had wanted to be traded.
”I don’t know what the answer is,” he said. ”All I can say is
there’s no other place I’d rather get traded to besides
He praised Belichick for bringing him to New England and said
the experience, ”is just something that I’ll never forget. We did
some magical things up there, but the show must go on, and it is a
His former teammates may miss him, but are confident they can
”We all in this locker room love Randy,” tight end Alge
Crumpler said. ”There’s nothing we can do to bring him back. All
we’ve got to do is focus on playing and staying together.”