Randy Moss Is Claimed by Tennessee Titans as Merriman Joins Winless Bills

Randy Moss is headed to his third team in as many months after being claimed off waivers by the Tennessee Titans, who lost leading receiver Kenny Britt to a hamstring injury last week.

The Titans added the four-time All-Pro selection a day after his four-game stint with the Minnesota Vikings ended. The Buffalo Bills also claimed a former All-Pro off waivers yesterday, picking up linebacker Shawne Merriman.

Moss, 33, ranks second in National Football League history with 153 career touchdowns, trailing only Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice. Five of Moss’s 22 catches this season have gone for touchdowns.

“It was a good pick-up by the Tennessee Titans,” former NFL quarterback Phil Simms, now an analyst for CBS Sports, said in comments distributed by the network. “They run the football and when they throw it, they throw it down the field. And Randy Moss, he can go get it.”

With a 5-3 record, the Titans are a half-game behind Indianapolis in the American Football Conference’s South Division. They lost Britt indefinitely to a hamstring injury, one game after he caught seven passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns in a win against the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Titans have a bye this week and next play Nov. 11 at the Miami Dolphins, giving the 6-foot-4 Moss added preparation time.

“We had an opportunity to upgrade our offense and Randy has been a tremendous threat wherever he has been,” Titans coach Jeff Fisher said in a statement. “We will bring him up to speed as quickly as possible.”

Moss’s Salary

The Titans will have to pay the rest of Moss’s $3.39 million in base salary this season.

The NFL’s waiver-claim process goes in inverse order of the current standings, so the Titans had the 22nd opportunity among the league’s 32 teams to add Moss.

Moss’s departure from Minnesota came two days after he had one catch for eight yards in the Vikings’ 28-18 loss at New England. During his postgame news conference, he complimented Patriots coach Bill Belichick and his former teammates while criticizing the Vikings’ coaching staff.

Moss also alienated Minnesota teammates by berating employees of a St. Paul restaurant who catered the team’s post- practice meal last week, according to Yahoo! Sports.

“It didn’t work out,” Childress said yesterday at a news conference. “I’m not going to get into any particulars. I wished and hoped that it would’ve worked out. But it was a pragmatic non-fit.”

Fisher and Moss

Simms said Fisher is the perfect coach to handle Moss, who is three seasons removed from setting an NFL record with 23 touchdown catches.

Fisher is in his 16th season with the Titans, the longest active tenure with one NFL team.

“If there is a coach out there that can handle Randy Moss, Jeff Fisher knows how to handle players,” said Simms, whose son Chris played in Tennessee in 2008. “He does it very well. That’s the reason why he’s been there so long.”

The Titans’ final nine games are against teams with .500 records or better, including two meetings with the Colts in the last four weeks of the regular season.

Tennessee hasn’t won a postseason game since 2004. The Titans passed on taking Moss in the 1998 draft, when they chose wide receiver Kevin Dyson with the 16th pick. Moss was the second receiver drafted, at No. 21 by the Vikings.

Merriman, who was the NFL’s 2005 defensive rookie of the year in 2005, joins a Bills defense that’s allowed a NFL-high 30.1 points per game this season.

The NFL’s lone winless team at 0-7, Buffalo has also surrendered 1,321 rushing yards, the most in the league.

“This is a good opportunity to make our defense better,” Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said in a statement.

Merriman was released two days ago, less than a month after being placed on the reserve-injured list with a “minor-injury” designation for a calf problem. The designation meant the Chargers had to waive Merriman when he was healthy.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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