Ravens fail to catch Moss

Vikings close to trading wide receiver to Raiders

Deal to become official Tuesday

Vikes reportedly will get Harris and 7th draft pick

February 24, 2005|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,SUN STAFF

After shopping Randy Moss in Atlanta and Baltimore, the Minnesota Vikings are on the verge of trading their big-play wide receiver to the Oakland Raiders, a team that can comfortably absorb his capricious nature.

First reported by the St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press on its Web site yesterday, the deal will become official on Tuesday when the NFL's 2005 fiscal year begins.

In return for Moss, the Vikings reportedly will receive linebacker Napoleon Harris, the seventh pick in the 2005 draft and a late-round pick this year.

For the second straight offseason - and third time in six years - that development will end the Ravens' quest to acquire through trade one of the league's top receivers.

A year ago, they agreed to trade a second-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for Terrell Owens, who successfully fought the deal and wound up with the Philadelphia Eagles instead.

Before the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl season, they also attempted to trade for Keyshawn Johnson of the New York Jets. Johnson, however, was dealt to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Moss was seen as a potential solution for the Ravens' ineffectual passing game. He reportedly listed the Ravens as one of two team preferences, having played his 1998 rookie season under Brian Billick, then the Vikings' offensive coordinator and now the Ravens' coach. He also indicated he'd be willing to play for the Atlanta Falcons.

Contacted yesterday, Billick said he didn't view the loss of Moss as a blow to the team's attempt to upgrade at receiver.

"We were going to explore all our options," Billick said. "Given my background with Randy, it was worth exploring. Like I said [Tuesday], trades are hard to come by.

"The seventh pick, a player later [in the draft] and Napoleon Harris is a very strong offer."

Billick declined to say which players were discussed with the Vikings, but one source indicated Minnesota wanted two draft choices, including a first-rounder, and pass-rusher Peter Boulware.

General manager Ozzie Newsome did not return a phone call from Indianapolis, where he is involved in the NFL combine workouts.

Moss, who just turned 28, had a career-low 49 catches in 2004 for the Vikings and missed a game for the first time in seven NFL seasons because of a hamstring injury. Still, he averaged 15.7 yards per catch and had 13 touchdown receptions.

In Oakland, he and Jerry Porter will give coach Norv Turner a pair of home-run receivers who can take advantage of quarterback Kerry Collins' strong arm. The Raiders signed Porter to a five-year, $20 million contract this week to keep him from going into free agency, which begins on Tuesday.

Rob Brzezinski, the Vikings' vice president of football operations, would not confirm the trade, but Moss's agent, Dante DeTrapano, told both the Pioneer Press and the Associated Press that the deal was done.

Although Moss is recognized as one of the game's best players, he has often gotten more attention for spontaneous acts. Last season, he was criticized for leaving the field with two seconds left in a loss to the Washington Redskins. Later, he was fined $10,000 by the league when he pantomimed pulling his pants down in Green Bay.

Moss has four years and $36.5 million left on an eight-year, $75 million contract he signed in 2001. He is due to make $7.25 million in 2005.

The Vikings now will hold the seventh and 18th picks in the first round of the April draft.

Sun staff reporter Jamison Hensley contributed to this article.

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