What Is Moss Worth?

As much as many Vikings fans don't want to look at the potential of trading Randy Moss, it has become a front-burner issue. The question now becomes what is Moss worth?

For many of us, the saga of Randy Moss has become a troubling one. At first, the rumors of trades to various other NFL teams seemed absurd for at least two reasons. First, you have the question of Vikings ownership. If you're selling a team, as Red McCombs clearly is, you want to make your product as attractive as possible. Having the most dominant player at any position is a plus, and Moss clearly is the most game-changing wide receiver in the business. Second, you have to accurately determine what Moss' market value is.

With the second issue comes the rub. If Jon Gruden, who was effectively traded by the Raiders to the Buccaneers, is worth two first-round picks, what is Moss worth? Four?

For fans hoping to get a Herschel Walker type of deal, guess again. The only people stupid enough to offer that kind of ransom were the former owners of the Vikings. But, in recent history, we've seen Jerry Jones give up two first-rounders for Joey Galloway -- savvy move Double J -- and the Bucs face-saving move after letting Tony Dungy go and then being without a coach for a month. So it is possible.

But in reality, how much are teams willing to give up to get Moss? With a better understanding coming of the salary cap over the years, the draft has become much more important to NFL teams. If a team believes it is only one or two players away from being a Super Bowl contender, they will move up in the first round to snap up the player they covet. The draft has become much more of a targeting effort -- making first-round picks a rich commodity that aren't given away without a sweetheart deal.

But, there is no way the Vikings are going to simply give away Moss. To date, the names of several teams have surfaced as being interested in acquiring Moss. Yet, the talk has all come from newpaper columnist and broadcast talking heads, not owners, general managers or coaches.

For his part, Mike Tice has maintained a company line, saying several times that Randy Moss is his guy and he doesn't envision the Vikings without him. But, Tice does realize that if the Vikings are ever going to trade Moss, the time couldn't be better than now. With seven years in the league, Moss is still at the top of his game. Still, injuries have become to catch up with him and, if he is to remain at the top echelon of wide receivers for years to come -- or at least the duration of his contract, he is going to have to change how he takes care of his body in the off-season.

The biggest hurdle to any trade is what the Vikings place Moss' value at. Since his arrival in 1998, the Vikings have transformed from a team that had two, three or even four home games a year blacked out to have a waiting list for season tickets that numbers into the thousands. It's no coincidence that Moss has been a big part of that.

From where I sit, if a team doesn't offer the Vikings two first-round picks and a starter -- whether a replacement wide receiver or a defensive starter -- there's no use even discussing a trade. Any offer that includes one first-round pick and a player should be rejected out of hand with prejudice.

Obviously I don't speak for all Vikings fans, but I do know that, in my years covering the Vikings and the rest of the NFL, there have only been a handful of players that I have marveled at for the skills they have that nobody else seems to possess. Jerry Rice, Barry Sanders, Ray Lewis and Peyton Manning are among them. Randy Moss has superceded them all. He is the biggest X-factor in the NFL right now and, if he is traded, my hope is that he goes to the AFC because if he has a chance to play the Vikings often -- much less in a playoff game -- they will bemoan the day that they let Moss get away.

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