Randy Moss was traded from the Oakland Raiders to the New England Patriots just over 10 years ago, in April of 2007. It was a trade that not only reignited Moss’ career, but birthed one of the best offenses in NFL history.
Moss was acquired by New England in exchange for a fourth-round draft choice. In his second of two seasons with the Raiders, Moss finished the year with 42 receptions for 553 yards and three touchdowns. It was by far the worst season of his career, and his value wasn’t high.
That Raiders team split its starts between Andrew Walter and Aaron Brooks — not exactly known as high-caliber quarterbacks in their time, and players you’ve already forgotten about.
The Raiders coach at the time, Lane Kiffin, thought it was a good trade. “We felt this was the best scenario for both the Raiders and Randy,” Oakland coach Lane Kiffin told The Associated Press via ESPN in 2007.
“We wish him nothing but the best.”
Kiffin’s wish came true, and then some.
At 30 years old, Moss had the best year of his career in his 10th NFL season. As much as many fans of other teams had grown to hate the Patriots, you couldn’t help but want to watch them carve up defenses on Sundays. They were that good.
Moss had the second-most yards in any season of his career with 1,493. He also recorded 23 touchdowns, which still stands as the NFL record for most in a season by a wide receiver.
It was because of plays like this, where Moss torches the best corner in the game at the time in Darrelle Revis, and then comes down with a one-handed touchdown:
There’s a reason that the most savage plays by wide receivers against defensive backs today are referred to as being “Mossed.” It’s because Moss made it a regular thing and made it look incredibly easy.
There is not a higher compliment that can be given in football. It’s the equivalent of a basketball crossover to one of Allen Iverson’s signature ankle-breakers.
Nobody else was doing this in the game in 2007. Tom Brady was an incredible quarterback who had already won a pair of Super Bowls. But when you add a talent like Moss? That’s just not fair.
Think about it like this: Moss was already one of the best receivers in the NFL in his rookie season. In 1998, he had 69 receptions for 1,313 yards and 17 touchdowns, and he was just 21 years old.
The majority of his games were played with Randall Cunningham and Daunte Culpepper, who were good quarterbacks, but not great. Cunningham’s last good season was Moss’ rookie year, and Culpepper was never the same after Moss left.
But pairing a 30-year-old Moss with Brady starting to enter his prime is a damn cheat code.
The Patriots offense clicked largely because of the Brady-Moss connection. Their 589 points in a regular season was the most in NFL history, until Peyton Manning’s 2013 Broncos broke it with 606.
The offense helped the Patriots win 18 games in a row, which is tied for the most wins in any NFL season and the longest win streak in an NFL season. They were, famously, a David Tyree helmet catch away from a perfect 19-0 season.
When Kiffin wished Moss the best in his new endeavor, I don’t think he quite expected all of that.
And in case you’re wondering, the Raiders used that fourth-round pick the Patriots sent in the trade to draft John Bowie of Cincinnati — who spent just three seasons with the team.
The trade was like a dream that Moss couldn’t believe at first.
When Moss was being traded, he got a call from Bill Belichick. Moss said via ESPN, “I thought it was a friend or somebody playing with my phone. I actually cussed him out. When he kept saying it was Bill Belichick, I knew he was serious. I started being apologetic because I had cussed the man.”
Moss said he went to the club that night, where Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers was.
“Shaun asked me what was going on and I said to him, ‘I'm getting ready to be a Patriot.’” Moss said. “The first thing that came out of his mouth was, ‘Man, that's cheatin'.’”
After they finally got down to business, Belichick let Moss know that he still believed in him. At that time, that meant a lot considering how Moss’ production had fallen off.
“Bill basically said he thought I was still effective; that I could be the deep threat like when I came into the league,” Moss said. “All those little things. He still had faith. He still believed I could go out there and do what I normally do.”
As it turns out, Belichick was right. Kinda like how he is with a lot of things. Moss’ career almost died out in Oakland, but his time with the Patriots ended up being the peak of his future Hall of Fame career.