Another stunner: One day after rant, Vikings set to waive Randy Moss
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Randy Moss all but said on Sunday night he wanted out.
He got his wish sooner than anyone could have expected.
In what can only be described as a stunning turn of events, the Minnesota Vikings were prepared to waive the mercurial receiver on Monday afternoon, less than a month after acquiring him from the New England Patriots and less than 24 hours after he practically begged his old team to take him back.
The Vikings did not announce the move, and Moss wasn't on the waiver wire sent to teams on Monday afternoon. But Moss' agent, Joel Segal, confirmed to multiple outlets he'd been informed of his client's pending release, and coach Brad Childress informed players of the decision in a team meeting earlier in the day.
"It's been addressed," veteran linebacker Ben Leber said, "and we support whatever the team feels like doing, and that's the way we're going to go."
NFL Network first reported the decision.
Acquired on Oct. 6 for a third-round draft pick, Moss had one catch for 8 yards in Sunday's 28-18 loss to his old team at Gilette Stadium. Afterwards, he ripped the media and Vikings coaches while effusively praising the Patriots in a bizarre 5-minute press conference that probably sealed his fate.
"I think it was just, 'Wow,'" Leber said of his reaction to Moss' words. "Just because it sounded like it was unprompted and sounded like he wanted to get some stuff off his chest. He certainly has every right to do that, but I don't think that's the way to do it."
Childress held his Monday media conference minutes before the team meeting and was asked a long string of question about Moss' words, attitude and lack of production.
Probably because he'd yet to inform the team of the decision, Childress did not reveal the pending move and acknowledged only that Moss had stayed behind in Boston to visit with family, adding that he'd rejoin the team on Wednesday.
"Do I regret acquiring him?" Childress said, repeating a question. "Not at present I don't, no."
Now, if Moss clears waivers -- his $6.4 million base salary, declining production and dismissal by two teams in less than month makes that likely -- he might get his wish to return to the Patriots team that traded him away less than one month ago.
As a vested veteran, he also would have the right to collect the remainder of his prorated base salary, meaning the Vikings would be paying him a little less than $3.4 million to not play for them the season's final nine weeks.
Players said Childress delivered the news matter of factly at the beginning of the regularly scheduled meeting and didn't go into details of the decision.
"It's kind of shocking," backup safety Tyrell Johnson said, "but at the same time the game of football is a business. It's about what you're doing, how you contribute to the team no matter who you are. Really. it's about winning football games."
The Vikings were 1-3 since the trade for Moss, and though defenses certainly accounted for him, his numbers -- 13 catches for 174 yards (13.4 average) and two touchdowns -- were anything but inspiring.
"As far as I'm concerned, he was a good teammate, from what we know," safety Jamarca Sanford said. "But you never know what goes on behind closed doors."
Leber said he didn't hear anything negative from Moss during Sunday's loss.
"Even at halftime, you could him just trying to be a positive influence, just trying to get the team and troops rallied up," Leber said.
But then the game ended, and Moss -- who hadn't addressed Twin Cities reporters in more than two weeks and was fined $25,000 on Friday for failing to do so -- informed a crowd of reporters near his locker that he planned to go to the podium.
What followed was a monologue in which Moss said he wouldn't answer questions the rest of the season, jabbed Childress for passing up a go-ahead field goal late in the first half and criticized players and coaches for not heeding his game-planning advice.
"The bad part about it," Moss said, "(is) you have six days to prepare for a team, and on the seventh day ... they come over to me and say, 'Dag, Moss, you was right about a couple plays and a couple schemes they were going to run.'
"It hurts as a player that you put a lot of hard work in all week, and toward the end of the week, Sunday, when you get on the field, that's when they acknowledge about the hard work you put in throughout the week. That's actually a disappointment."
Childress said he hadn't heard or read that portion of Moss statement but added, "I think we did a pretty good job of heeding (the advice), both offensively and defensively. He gave us some windows into how we thought they would end up playing. But that's obviously in his eyes."
The final act
Perhaps most disturbing for coaches was Moss' lack of effort on a play that yielded a pass-interference penalty against Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather, who played deep on Moss' side of the field nearly the entire game.
The flag gave the Vikings possesion at the 9-yard line, and they scored a touchdown four plays later. However, quarterback Brett Favre was knocked from the game with a chin laceration on the ensuing series, and replays showed Moss had a chance to catch a ball he let drop at the goal line instead.
"It appeared like he could have gone after it and gotten it," Childress said. "But again, I don't know. He was restricted. If they called pass interference, there had to be some kind of restriction."
Whatever the catalyst, Moss is finished as a Viking for the second time in less than six years.
And unlike in March 2005, when trading Moss brought a package including a first-round pick from the Oakland Raiders, the Vikings get nothing in return for a player they traded for less than one month ago with hopes he'd spark a turnaround for an offense and a team that continues to scuffle.
The other circumstances of Moss' departure are familiar: a falling out with the organization, a decision that could divide the fan base and a team left to band together without one of the most powerful voices in the locker room.
"There's some times where you take the losses pretty hard," Leber said. "But I think, man for man, we're all sticking together and we all have each other's backs. That feeling of mutual respect is still there."
Coaches' immediate task is refiguring deployment of a receivers group that finally seemed to be settling into roles after months of turnover.
Percy Harvin -- who also is represented by Segal and quickly grew tight with Moss -- had benefitted from seeing more single coverage and leads the Vikings with 31 catches for 393 yards and three touchdowns. Bernard Berrian, Greg Lewis and Greg Camarillo had seen their roles reduced, as had Hank Baskett, who's been inactive in recent weeks.
The X-factor is the health of Sidney Rice, who began jogging and catching passes last week as he continues to recover from hip surgery. The Vikings must start practicing Rice by Nov. 9; once that happens, they'll have three weeks to evaluate him and decide when or if he'll be activated from the reserve/physically unable to perform list.