Analysis Of A Rumor

For the second time in less than a month, the Vikings and Randy Moss have been the subject of gossip tantamount to that spread by fishwives on a wharf. Except the latest rumor has a lot of holes visible to the naked eye that don't make sense.

Last month, VU was the first to dismiss a rumor that got plenty of national airplay that Mike Tice, in a poorly chosen word selection, gave Randy Moss the impression he thought he was nuts. Less than a month later, a Twin Cities and Miami newspaper have launched a rumor of a trade for Moss to the Dolphins. As little sense as the first rumor made, this one is even more bizarre.

Not looking to give rumors any more credence, there are three potential scenarios under which this latest hot stove chatter goes.

SCENARIO ONE: It's completely false. At VU, we're leaning toward this one for a couple of simple reasons. While trade rumors usually don't include specific players like this one does -- CB Sam Madison, WR Chris Chambers and DE Adewale Ogunleye -- there are problems-a-plenty with this scenario. First off, the Dolphins are at an impasse with Madison, who has a cap number of more than $7 million. Less than a month ago, one of our Dolphins sources mentioned Madison to us, saying if the veteran isn't willing to lower his cap number, the Dolphins may cut him outright some time this spring. The second problem is Ogunleye. As a restricted free agent, he and the Vikings would have to work out a long-term contract before any trade could be completed. With the spending the Vikings do, taking on Madison's monster contract, Chambers' growing deal and a huge signing bonus for Ogunleye simply doesn't make sense -- much less trading away the wildly popular Moss.

SCENARIO TWO: Mike Tice is lying about his trade denials. Tice has left no question for those who have asked that there's nothing to the trade rumors. His history with the media has gone back and forth when it comes to honesty. In his first season, he was perhaps too honest -- telling VU and others about his man-love for Ryan Sims on draft day and reports he told Jerry Jones he wasn't interested in safety Roy Williams, which triggered a trade with the Cowboys and Chiefs to allow Sims to go to Kansas City. Last year, he took the opposite approach, deceiving the local media about his intention to draft Kevin Williams. If he is lying, it could leave a stain on his relationship with the media, who have given him a pass thus far but don't like being lied to.

SCENARIO THREE: He's telling the truth and Moss gets traded. This would be the most troubling scenario, because it would mean that the head coach has no part in determining who is on the field and who isn't for his own team. If this is the case, Tice, in the mind of many fans, would be viewed as merely an empty suit and mouthpiece for Red McCombs. If a franchise player gets traded with no input from the coach, it may be time to start updating Tice's resume.

Any of these three scenarios may be possible, but we're sticking with No. 1. How two major newspapers could get sucked into such a story is unclear, but, until we hear otherwise, we're taking the Vikings brass at their word and some gossip from Florida as either a liar or misinformed.

* And they're off! Vikings fans who had hoped to see a big-time splash this year in free agency to get a DE or CB were once again disappointed, as the Redskins locked up Shawn Springs and the Eagles nabbed Jevon Kearse to an eight-year, $66 million deal.
* The Bears were the first team to make a signing, picking up RB Thomas Jones. But that success was tempered later in the day by losing OL Chris Villarrial.
* If the Vikings were to trade Moss, it wouldn't be as damaging as some have reported. The Vikings would take an $11 million hit for the pro-rated portion of the remaining signing bonus from Moss' contract, but his cap number of $8.8 million would be eliminated, resulting in a net cap hit of about $2.2 million.
* Texans nose tackle Steve Martin was at Winter Park Wednesday.
* Scheduled in Friday are former Steelers TE Mark Bruener and Ravens WR Marcus Robinson.
* Fred Robbins will meet with the Giants today, a day after starting DT Cornelius Griffin was signed away from the G-Men to (who else?) the Redskins.

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