Opinion: Moss Contract Too Much

In order for Randy Moss to be deserving of the richest receiving contract in the NFL, he has to beat the competition in nearly every category. That hasn't happened, at least not yet.

Looking at the new contract that Randy Moss signed with the Vikings, you have to wonder what the Vikings are thinking in making Moss one of the highest paid players in the NFL. While Moss is obviously one of the most talented players in the league, his value is clearly overrated by the Vikings.

Moss led the NFL in two statistics last year – touchdown catches (15) and plays of 40 or more yards (8). He led each of these by one over the nearest player in each category. His overall performance was high, but the difference between Moss and some less-famous wide receivers was not that much. Moss had 77 catches for 1,437 yards, 15 TDs and an average of 18.7 yards per catch and 89.8 yards per game. Moss ranked fifth in both yards per game, and total receiving yards for wide receivers.

Let me ask you this – if another player comes up with similar stats, should his team give him a deal putting him in the top five-ten players in the league? If so, then Derrick Alexander, Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Torry Holt, Rod Smith, Ed McCaffrey, Isaac Bruce and a few others are in for big pay raises. Overall, Moss probably had the best season, but Terrell Owens had more catches, more yards and scored only two fewer TDs. Do you think the 49ers will make Owens one of the top five players in the NFL in terms of salary? How about Marvin Harrison? He had 24 fewer yards than Moss and only one less touchdown.

Thirteen NFL wide receivers had 1,200 or more yards receiving last year. Eleven averaged eighty or more yards per game. Now, I could go on more about the numbers here, but my main point is that it is simply not that difficult for a receiver to pile up a lot of yards and score seven to 10 TDs. The main difference in how the other players do it versus Moss is that they catch a lot of passes for fewer yards per catch. The Vikings have the luxury of having Cris Carter (1,274 yards, 9 TDs) opposite Moss to do the dirty work. Can Moss turn it up over the rest of his career to be the ultimate receiver? To combine what he does with what Cris Carter does, ala Jerry Rice? Who knows?

What I see with Moss is incredible ability, which can be a mixed blessing. If things are too easy, sometimes a player never learns how to really play hard. Moss has been accused of loafing, and he didn't help his reputation with his sorry performance in the NFC title game. If Randy Moss is going to be worth the money the Vikings are paying him, he'll have to be a more complete player, which means trying on every play and doing something he doesn't seem to like, which is catch the ball over the middle and rack up yards after the catch. This is really the weakness of his game. He often drops the ball over the middle, and sometimes looks lackadaisical after the catch. If Moss wants to be truly great, he should model himself after Jerry Rice, who absolutely killed teams by routinely turning 5-yard passes into 50-yard touchdowns.

The other question I have is how this will affect the other players on the Vikings. If Moss loafs and relies on the occasional big play to earn his keep, I don't see how the other players can respect that. When that same player shoots his mouth off every time the team loses a tough game, you have to question his commitment to the team. When that is rewarded with a record-breaking contract for a wide receiver, how does that play with the other players?

Much has been made of Moss' numbers over the first three years comparing favorably with Jerry Rice. I have some news for you – Rice started in only four games his first year, and his third year was shortened by the infamous '87 player's strike. Rice still managed to score 22 touchdowns in twelve games that year, his career high. Moss is well off of Rice's best years and will have to pick it up if he wants to be as good as Rice. Rice had four seasons of more than 1,500 yards, including an NFL record 1,848 in 1995. He had five seasons of 15 or more TDs. Moss has yet to hit 1,500 yards, and his high in TDs so far is 17.

Randy Moss is a huge plus, and often a minus for the Vikings. To earn his salary, he'll have to turn up the production to a level that no other receiver has ever reached. Otherwise, he'll be an expensive luxury for a team with serious salary cap problems.

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