At age 34, Moss might be impacted by the perceptions that he has lost some deep speed and the reality that he is hardly a middle-of-the-field option. Said one NFC general manager of Moss, who had only 28 combined receptions with three different teams in 2010: "If all he's going to do is run up the boundary, you can get younger and cheaper guys who can do that for you."
There's also this factor: Moss doesn't play special teams, never has, and as a fourth or fifth receiver, would have to do.
"He'd be a luxury," said the NFC general manager. "And there aren't a lot of teams that can afford a luxury ... not from a money situation, but more from a personnel standpoint."
Harrison's time numbered: His rant last week aside, Pittsburgh outside linebacker James Harrison can probably start the countdown to the end of his career with the Steelers, especially given the history of the team and its football people.
Forget the fact that the league's defensive player of the year in 2008 became the latest to provide a black eye for the Black and Gold. The Steelers will take the accompanying public relations hit and, while hardly satisfied with Harrison's attempt to apology and explanation, move on.
In time, probably another season or so, they'll move on without Harrison. A passionate defender whose effort and play-making skills are much admired by coordinator Dick LeBeau, the late-blooming Harrison is 33, and will be 34 before the start of the 2012 campaign.
Harrison has demonstrated none of the performance drop-off typical of players at that age, and certainly no loss of energy, but the Steelers have a way of phasing out older outside linebackers, spinning the revolving door, and moving in new guys who previously apprenticed in their 3-4 system. Tagged with the franchise marker earlier this spring, LaMarr Woodley is 5 1/2 years younger than Harrison, and the Steelers will make it a post-lockout priority to hammer out a long-term agreement that extends the one-year tender he signed earlier this spring.
If they succeed, the deal is sure to rival the six-year, $51.75 million contract Harrison signed in 2009. While the success of the Pittsburgh defense depends in part on having two terrific outside ‘backers, the club might not want to invest such a big part of its salary cap on the position. Harrison's base salary for this season is just $3.67 million. Even in 2012, it's a palatable $5.315 million. But there is nearly $19 million left in base salaries for the three-year period 2012-2014, and the bet here is that Harrison won't be around to cash much of it.
The Pittsburgh system is built on bringing in former college defensive ends, taking a season or two to convert them to 3-4 linebackers and then moving them up the playing-time chain. The team invested a second-round pick in 2010 on Jason Worilds and a fifth-rounder this year on Chris Carter, and the club expects both to be players in the future.
Perhaps eventual contenders, in fact, for Harrison's spot.