Is it Moss or bust this offseason?

Have you checked out the lists of available free agents? PackerReport.com's Steve Lawrence has, and he's not impressed. At this point, the only way to improve the team before the draft will be to trade for - like it or not - Randy Moss.

Thoughts about Randy Moss are running hot and heavy, from Bob Harlan's personal phone at 1265 Lombardi Ave. to my personal e-mail here at palatial Lawrence Estates in suburban Green Bay to the letters-to-the-editor links on this superb Web site.

As professional wrestler Rick Flair likes to say, "whether you like it or you don't like it, you better learn to love it," because Moss certainly seems headed to Green Bay.

I think Moss is past his prime and isn't worth the potential headaches, especially with his salary-cap number, but at this point, he had better be coming to Green Bay. Without him, the Packers will have done exactly nothing to improve themselves this offseason, and teams that aren't moving forward actually are moving backward.

If you think Packers general manager Ted Thompson can significantly improve this team in free agency anymore, forget about it. If you haven't checked out the frequently updated links of best available free agents on the right side of our home page, I'll save you the trouble.

The Packers need a halfback to, at the very least, split time with Vernand Morency. The guess is Thompson will wait til after the draft to add to the backfield, in hopes he can get Cal's Marshawn Lynch or someone in the second round. The only starting-caliber back remaining in free agency is Tennessee's Chris Brown, though he might not be the ideal fit for the zone scheme and still could wind up back with the Titans or land in Detroit.

The Packers could use a fullback to challenge Brandon Miree. The only decent guy out there is Daimon Shelton, who's 34 and at 260 pounds isn't suited for the zone system. Besides, Shelton probably carries a big price tag, considering former Packers castoff Vonta Leach just received a four-year, $8 million offer from the Giants. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the Packers just brought in Terrelle Smith, but if he's not good enough to be with the Browns - Cleveland released him last week - then he's probably not good enough for the Packers.

The Packers could use a tight end. The only upgrade over Bubba Franks would be Seattle headcase Jerramy Stevens, the former Seahawks first-round pick who recently was pulled over for allegedly driving while intoxicated and possession of marijuana. Do we want Moss, Stevens and Koren Robinson in the same locker room?

If the Packers don't wind up with Moss, they could use a wide receiver to add some depth. According to scout.com's rankings, the best available is Eric Moulds. He'll be 34 when the season kicks off, and did next to nothing last season in Houston.

This brings us to safety, and here's a position where the Packers could help themselves. Seattle's Ken Hamlin and Indianapolis' Mike Doss are available. Both are better against the run than the pass - and Doss is coming off a season-ending knee injury - which perhaps is why neither has been linked to Green Bay. But both would be upgrades over Marquand Manuel. Maybe Thompsons plan is to grab Florida safety Reggie Nelson in the first round (or, if theyre lucky, LSUs LaRon Landry) and hope Arizona running back Chris Henry is there in the second round. That's a lot of hoping.

I don't blame Thompson for not jumping into free agency. When guys like Leach are getting $8 million offers, you know the system is off-kilter. Maybe he thought the rest of the league would spend themselves silly and he'd swoop in for some quality leftovers, like he did last year. If that was his plan, it didn't work.

Again, I'll side with Thompson for not overspending. But at the same time, he's not doing his No. 1 job, and that's to improve the Green Bay Packers. It's a tough balancing act, to be sure. Will Thompson be on the right side of that scale? Chances are, Randy Moss will be the one providing the answer to that question.

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


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