The New England Patriots are no strangers to shocking trades, as we saw Monday when they moved linebacker Jamie Collins to the Browns. Randy Moss, now an ESPN analyst, was on the other side of a Bill Belichick stunner in April 2007, when the Patriots snagged him from the Raiders for a fourth-round pick. With the NFL's trade deadline on Tuesday, Moss recounts what it was like to get traded to New England, how he clicked with Tom Brady so quickly and his biggest regret.
How did you first find out you were being traded to the Patriots?
I got a phone call and it was Bill Belichick. 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. Then he told me the Raiders were thinking about trading me. I had to be in Foxborough by 10 p.m. Eastern, or the trade would void. So, I just did everything that I could possibly do to get up there by 10 p.m.
After I got off the phone with him, I was excited. I was hyped. I was in a club that night. Defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who played for the Detroit Lions at the time, was there, so I went up there, high-fiving him, hugging random people. Shaun asked me what was going on and I said to him, "I'm getting ready to be a Patriot." The first thing that came out of his mouth was, "Man, that's cheatin'."
What else do you remember from your first conversation with Belichick?
Bill basically said he thought I was still effective, that I could be the deep threat like when I came into the league. All those little things. He still had faith. He still believed I could go out there and do what I normally do.
What did you think about being traded for a fourth-round pick?
I could see why they did it. I wasn't that productive in Oakland. We were not productive as a team in Oakland. So the price tag might have gone down. There was some things said about me from coaches and the front office about how my skills were diminishing. I had [a lot of money] on the table. I told the Oakland Raiders they could keep all of that money. I didn't want to play anymore. So I really wasn't tuned in to what was going on in Oakland. I got refocused and became a Patriot.
Was there any adjustment period working with Brady?
We clicked right away. When Tom was audibling, I always wanted to know why. When it came to preparation, when it came to protections, one-word audibles, things like that, I always wanted to make sure that I knew what was going on before it went on. That would help me play faster. The magic and the numbers, and the records we broke, that was hard work.
What are your thoughts as you look back on your time with the Patriots?
One thing it let me do was refocus. I understood where I was in my career and that I still wanted to play. And I understood that I still had a lot of football left to play. It was about me redefining myself as an individual, working hard, getting refocused. We started winning every week, and it just gave me momentum. I was scoring touchdowns, I was blocking, doing all the little things that receivers don't do in today's game. That gave me the ability to critique myself -- the good and the bad. I think that's why good things were able to happen. We held each other accountable, no matter what.
Do you have any regrets from your time with the Patriots?
The only regret: Having an undefeated season, doing so many great things, then, when the game counted for us to really bring it home in the Super Bowl, we couldn't bring it home.