Speed means Moss is the answer
If I had a voice in the New York Jets' front office, I'd make sure Santonio Holmes got a big contract if Braylon Edwards left, and I'd try to match up with Moss, who is represented by Holmes' agent. It would be a nice package deal.
Why Randy Moss? The answer is speed. Moss may have a reputation of taking a few plays off when things get tough, but he can still get off the line of scrimmage and get downfield. Moss admittedly made the mistake of talking himself off the New England Patriots' roster, but there are still enough big plays left in his 6-foot-4 body to help an offense.
Last season had to be humbling for Moss. The Minnesota Vikings traded away a third-round choice to acquire him, but he came to a team ready for a collapse. Brett Favre's body was breaking down. Coach Brad Childress was losing the locker room. Moss angered Childress, who cut him. Moss went to the Tennessee Titans once Kenny Britt was hurt, but went to the bench when Britt was healthy.
Now, at the age of 34, Moss is entering a new phase in his career. He's no longer a No. 1 receiver. But his height, leaping ability and speed make him valuable. Chad Ochocinco, who will probably be cut or traded by the Cincinnati Bengals, is a good receiver, but he's 33 and his best plays are inside the numbers on the field. He still has 70-catch ability, but his yard-per-catch is more in the 12- or 13-yard range.
Plaxico Burress has been out of the game for two years and can't expect to go to a team and be a full-time starter. Like Michael Vick, he needs a soft landing with a team that won't put him on the field all the time. That's why the Philadelphia Eagles, who can mix him in as a fourth receiver, would be a nice fit.
As for Terrell Owens, he's 37 and can't be expected to have a 1,000-yard season. Since 1983, only four wide receivers have produced a 1,000-yard season after they turned 36.
For the St. Louis Rams, Moss would give Sam Bradford & Co. the downfield threat they need to open up their offense. Moss would help stretch the field for Mark Sanchez in New York and provide a great red zone threat.
From this gang of four, Moss is the choice.
Far from perfect, T.O. can still do it
Right now, there are several older once-great/still-may-be-great wide receivers likely to change teams this year. Of Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Chad Ochocinco and Plaxico Burress, I think Owens will have the most success in 2011.
None of these wideouts played well last season, and in Burress' case, he didn't play at all. But I thought Owens had the best season of the others by a pretty substantial margin. Of course, he wasn't perfect. Owens still drops passes, isn't a factor as a blocker and runs inconsistent routes. It may be a coincidence that Carson Palmer looked his best at the end of last season, when neither Owens nor Ochocinco was involved.
Owens is a very big, strong body and keeps himself in tremendous shape. More than the other receivers mentioned, Owens fits any offensive scheme that he might go to for the 2011 season. He can run short, quick-hitting routes like slants and is a handful to get to the ground after the catch. He can still get deep and use his size and ability to make big plays downfield.
Owens also will go over the middle and is excellent near the goal line. In fact, Owens is one of the best who ever lived at scoring touchdowns -- only Jerry Rice has caught more. Of this group of wideouts, I believe Owens is the best combination of a big playmaker and someone to move the chains. Imagine if he lands somewhere like Houston, where he can attack second corners one-on-one in a balanced offense.
In Owens' 13 healthy games in 2010, he compiled nearly 1,000 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. That is good for more than 75 yards a game. Owens had more than 100 yards in three of those contests.
Most impressively, during a five-game stretch in the middle of the season, Owens caught a whopping 41 passes for 618 yards and seven touchdowns. I concede that Owens' numbers from 2010 exceed his true football value, but I also have little doubt that this future Hall of Famer can still be very effective.
Matt Williamson covers the X's and O's of the NFL for Scouts Inc. and ESPN.com.