Randy Moss returned to the Minnesota Vikings, giving quarterback Brett Favre an All-Pro target after injuries decimated the team’s receivers.
Moss, whose 151 touchdown catches are second to Jerry Rice’s 197 in National Football League history, was sent to the Vikings from the New England Patriots for an undisclosed draft pick, both teams said in news releases. The pick is a 2011 third-rounder, several news organizations including ESPN reported. Moss started his NFL career in Minnesota and made headlines for both pass catching and controversial actions.
“In this business, there are complex and often difficult decisions, but it is my responsibility to make them based on what I feel is best for our football team, in both the short term and long term,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “Consistent with my dealings with Randy from the day we acquired him through our conversation this morning, it has been honest, thoughtful and with great mutual respect.”
The 33-year-old Moss gives the Vikings a healthy wide receiver with big-play ability. Sidney Rice will miss at least two more weeks of the season with a hip injury and Percy Harvin is struggling with migraine headaches.
The Vikings are 1-2 this season and play the New York Jets in a nationally televised game Oct. 11. Moss made a leaping, one-handed touchdown catch in a 28-14 loss to the Jets on Sept. 19, New England’s lone defeat in four games.
A four-time All-Pro selection, Moss was a first-round draft pick by the Vikings in 1998. He played his first seven seasons in Minnesota, catching 574 passes for 9,142 yards and 90 touchdowns, all of which trail only Cris Carter in franchise history.
“He is a tremendous competitor and was an integral member of the Vikings’ organization from 1998-2004,” Vikings coach Brad Childress said in a statement. “Once again, ownership was completely supportive of our efforts to add a valuable football player to our team.”
Moss also found trouble off the field and on. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to careless driving and obstructing traffic after police said he used his car to push a traffic-control officer while making an illegal left turn, with marijuana found in the vehicle. In a 2004 game, he was accused of quitting on his team after walking off the field and into the locker room with two seconds left on the clock. In 2005, he was fined $10,000 by the NFL for pretending to drop his pants and “moon” Green Bay Packers’ fans.
The Vikings traded Moss that year to the Oakland Raiders, where he caught 11 touchdown passes over two seasons before being sent to the Patriots in 2007.
He was revitalized there, breaking Rice’s 20-year-old record by catching 23 touchdown passes in 2007. The Patriots went undefeated before losing 17-14 to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
In three-plus seasons in New England, Moss caught 259 passes for 3,904 yards with 50 touchdowns.
This season, he had nine catches for 139 yards and three scores, failing to make a catch in New England’s 41-14 win two days ago over the Miami Dolphins. It was his first game without a reception since joining the Patriots.
Following the team’s season-opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals, Moss spoke about wanting a new contract. He was making $6.4 million in 2010, the final year of a three-year, $27 million contract, according to the Associated Press.