How a Pats-Moss reunion could work

With the Minnesota Vikings publicly confirming their intention to waive receiver Randy Moss, one question from a New England perspective is: Would the Patriots bring Moss back?

If the following three things happen, a strong case could be made for the answer being "yes":

1. None of the other 30 NFL teams (not including Minnesota) claims Moss on waivers.

2. Moss is willing to reduce his salary to $2.2 million or less, which would put him in line with receivers Wes Welker and Deion Branch and reflect a commitment to the Patriots that his return isn't about money.

3. Moss is willing to be on the "2007 plan", which basically means one strike and he's out. That was the case in his first year with the Patriots when he put up record numbers.

Perhaps Moss' four-game stint with the Vikings has changed his perspective and he'd be willing to sign on under these terms. If he isn't, it would be a surprise if the Patriots take the plunge.

After all, the team traded him for a reason and Moss' focus on his contract -- and how he was approaching the uncertainty of being in the final year of his pact -- seemed like a significant part of the decision-making process. This was reflected in Moss' introductory news conference in Minnesota when he talked about the business side of the game.

So, really, this would come down to which Moss the Patriots would be getting.

Is it the 2007 Moss who was motivated to revive his career after two disappointing seasons in Oakland? Or the 2010 Moss who seemed more motivated by positioning himself for one final payday?

If it's the 2007 version, and the Patriots were convinced it was the case, one would think there would be genuine interest.

Simply put, this type of move would have to be on their terms, not Moss's.

Clearly, Moss can still be a difference-maker, as evidenced by the way the Patriots defended him Sunday. They devoted significant resources to ensure Moss wouldn't beat them with the big play, playing a safety over the top of him for long stretches of the game. That opened opportunities for others, especially receiver Percy Harvin.

Meanwhile, the Patriots' own passing offense has struggled to find its consistent groove since Moss was traded. Adding Moss to a receiving corps of Branch, Welker, Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman could be lethal.

It seems unlikely that all factors come together to produce a Patriots-Moss reunion.

But in a Patriots season that has been filled with unexpected twists and turns, it shouldn't be ruled out of the question.