MINNEAPOLIS — The New England Patriots and Vikings are discussing a trade that would bring star receiver Randy Moss back to Minnesota.
A league source spoke to The Associated Press about the discussions on condition of anonymity on Tuesday night because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the negotiations.
The seven-time Pro Bowler was a first-round draft pick of the Vikings in 1998 and spent his first seven seasons in the NFL with Minnesota. He was traded to Oakland in 2005, where he languished for two years before being revitalized in New England.
Moss set an NFL record with 23 touchdown receptions in 2007. But he has said several times this year that he expected 2010 to be his last season with the Patriots. He did not have a catch in New England’s 41-14 victory over Miami on Monday night.
“When you have done so much and put so much work in, it kind of feels like I am not wanted,” Moss said in September. “I am taking that in stride and playing my final year out and whatever the future holds is what it holds, but it is kind of a bad feeling — feeling not wanted. It is not like my production has gone down.”
Moss caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards in his first season with New England in 2007. He had 69 catches for 1,008 yards and 11 TDs in 2008, when Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury early in the year and came back with 83 catches for 1,264 yards and 13 scores last season.
Foxsports.com first reported the discussions.
A Patriots spokesman said no trade has been completed.
Moss is in the final season of his three-year, $27 million contract and has made no secret about his desire for a new deal, and believed he would have to go elsewhere to get one.
“I don’t even know what my fate is, and for me to be 33 years old, it’s like I’m held at bay, and that’s definitely an uncomfortable thing,” Moss told The Associated Press last month. “If this is my last year here, I want to leave as good as I came in here in ’07. I know that’s really hard to duplicate, but I don’t want the fans, the organization, coaches or my teammates to have a sour taste in their mouths about Randy Moss.
“If I do leave here, I want everything to be positive — that I was a good guy, I was well coached, well mannered, a good man in the locker room, a good teammate to be around.”
It was not immediately known if the Vikings had entered into discussions with Moss for a long-term deal or if that would affect his desire to be traded back to the place where his career began.
The Vikings sure could use him.
Pro Bowl receiver Sidney Rice will miss at least the first six weeks of the season because of a hip injury and Percy Harvin has struggled all season with migraine headaches.
Without the deep threat that he had in Rice, quarterback Brett Favre’s production has dropped dramatically. The Vikings have lost two of their first three games and their receiving group lacks the prototypical big-play receiver who can out-jump smaller cornerbacks for passes down the field.
That’s Moss in a nutshell.
He immediately energized a lagging franchise as a rookie in 1998. He averaged 19.0 yards per catch and hauled in 17 TDs to help the team reach the NFC title game. His first season coincided with a string of sellouts at the drab Metrodome that remains going to this day.
Vikings fans still wear his No. 84 jersey to the Dome on game days, six years after he left.
The move would no doubt delight Favre, who will turn 41 later this month. He openly campaigned for the Packers to acquire Moss toward the end of his time in Green Bay. But the Patriots ultimately ended up parting with just a fourth-round pick to pry Moss away from the Raiders, and Favre privately fumed at the swing and miss by the Green Bay front office.
Favre was traded to the New York Jets a year later and signed a two-year deal with the Vikings last season.
The Vikings had discussions with the San Diego Chargers earlier this season about disgruntled Pro Bowl receiver Vincent Jackson, but could not agree on compensation to complete a trade.
AP Sports Writer Howard Ulman in Boston contributed to this report.