Exploring the Moss rumor

If it indeed is in essence a Randy Moss-for-Aaron Rodgers swap, is it a good deal for the Packers? PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence weighs in.

Where there's smoke, there's generally fire.

Ted Thompson denied a report last week in which the Green Bay Packers, in essence, would be trading quarterback Aaron Rodgers to the Oakland Raiders for Randy Moss.

But the trade details were so specific that, despite what Thompson claims, there must be something to it. That, and the fact the Packers are $21 million under the cap and there are no free agents available worth even a decent-sized chunk of that money, strongly show the Packers will wind up with Moss.

So, let's assume the Boston Herald's "Wisconsin source" has this baby pegged, and the Packers would be shipping Rodgers and a seventh-round draft pick in 2008 to Oakland in exchange for Moss, tight end Courtney Anderson and a conditional 2009 draft pick that would be based on Rodgers' play.

Is this a good deal? Well, it depends on which version of Moss decides to come to Green Bay.

If it's the Moss that was the league's most dangerous offensive weapon from his rookie year of 1998 to his next-to-last year in Minnesota, 2003, then it might be worth exploring, even with all of the baggage Moss totes with him.

But there's the not-so-small problem of what Moss has done the last three years.

In 2004, Moss caught 49 passes. In 2005, he caught 60. In 2006, he caught 42. Now, that's not very good production, especially for a guy who carries a cap figure of about $10 million per year and has the maturity level of your average kindergartner (no offense to those of you with kindergarten-age kids).

Now, for those of you who really, really, really want Moss in a Packers uniform, I can hear you loud and clear. Yes, playing for Oakland was a drag on his stats, but that doesn't give him a free pass to quit on his team.

Why do the Moss supporters continually turn back the clock and pretend this is 2003, when Moss caught a ridiculous 111 passes for 17 touchdowns?

That's four years ago. Why put more credence in what happened four years ago than what happened in any of the last three years? It seems more likely that, at the age of 30, Moss no longer has the sheer athletic talent — especially in a league with bigger and faster defensive backs — to dominate, especially since he's never been a precise route runner like 33-year-old Marvin Harrison or 32-year-old Torry Holt.

If that's the case, then the Packers should hang onto Bubba Franks because he's a Pro Bowl tight end, and they should definitely keep Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila because he's one of the top pass rushers in the NFL.

This isn't just about Moss, though.

Anderson is an OK tight end — and at 6-foot-6, 270 pounds, an intriguing prospect — though he would be an upgrade over the departed David Martin.

Of course, the key to it all is Rodgers.

It's hard to imagine Thompson getting rid of his first first-round pick before Rodgers has even had a chance to show what he can do. Rodgers was supposed to be the quarterback of the future, and if he's traded, then that first-round pick was a colossal waste of money and time spent coaching him.

More importantly, say the Packers go 10-6 this coming season and Favre retires. Without a long-term solution at quarterback who knows the system inside and out, the 2008 Packers are more likely to go 8-8 than go 12-4 and win home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. This team is on the rise. You don't want that rise detoured.

But, this column is about assuming the Boston Herald's trade report is accurate. If Rodgers would bomb in Oakland, then, obviously, the Moss trade looks a lot better, even if he only contributes 50 catches a year and screws up several running plays because he didn't feel like blocking.

If Rodgers becomes an above-average NFL starter, then Thompson will look like a fool. The best analogy I can come up with is when the Detroit Tigers acquired veteran pitcher Doyle Alexander for a prospect named John Smoltz. Alexander was brilliant, going 9-0 to end the 1987 season and helping get Detroit into the playoffs — but not the World Series — but Atlanta got a stud pitcher for a decade and a half in return.

If Rodgers shines, then Moss will have to be out of this world for his short stay in Green Bay. Given what Moss has done since leaving Daunte Culpepper and losing Cris Carter, that doesn't seem likely.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to PackerReport.com. Send comments to steve_lawrence_packers@yahoo.com.

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