UPDATE: Mike Shanahan was asked about Randy Moss at the end of his press conference today, and did not rule out looking into him. Joking that Moss was in D.C. right now, Shanahan said they always will look into free agents and decide whether they can help the team win. "We'll look at Randy, and make a decision about whether he'll help our football team win," he said.
In case you haven't heard, the Minnesota Vikings have, shockingly, decided to waive Randy Moss, just four weeks after trading a third-round pick to the New England Patriots to acquire him. Moss is now placed on waivers, which means any NFL team can put in a claim for him. Priority goes by the worst record to the best record, which means the Patriots can only claim him if all other teams pass on him.
The Redskins are 15th on that list, meaning they can only claim Moss if the 14 teams with worse records pass on him. That seems unlikely, given Moss' talent, but it's not completely improbable, considering Moss' attitude. There are plenty of reasons that claiming Moss would be a risk -- he's moody, not as good as he used to be and seems to have his heart set on returning to the Patriots. He also doesn't fix the Redskins' offensive line, and you have to wonder how he'll get along with Mike Shanahan.
But if for some reason he's available, the Redskins have to claim him. Three reasons why after the jump.
1. The Redskins need a big-play wide receiver badly: The Redskins' offense has a lot of problems, but one of the big ones is that they don't have any playmakers on the outside. Donovan McNabb has absolutely nobody to throw the ball to right now. Chris Cooley has been solid, but is best in underneath routes. Santana Moss is decent, but often disappears and is really best as a slot receiver. Anthony Armstrong isn't bad, but he's not good enough to be the team's top deep threat consistently, and Joey Galloway and Roydell Williams don't belong on NFL rosters. When you have a quarterback with as good an arm as McNabb, you have to surround him with big-play receivers. Even now, Randy Moss is a big-play receiver.
2. Randy Moss lifts the play of other receivers: Say what you want about Randy Moss' attitude or his penchant for taking plays off, but he has consistently made his teammates better with his presence on the field. In particular, slot receivers have become much more productive playing with Moss. First, it was Wes Welker in New England. Prior to coming to the Patriots, Welker wasn't a very remarkable player, but he became one of the league's most productive receivers thanks to all the room he had to operate underneath with Moss' ability to draw defenders deep. Now, it's Percy Harvin who has seen his play rise. Harvin struggled earlier in the year dealing with the attention of being the top option, but he immediately became a force after the Vikings traded for Moss. In the last four games, Harvin has 19 catches for 287 yards and two touchdowns. In the first three games, without Moss, Harvin had just 12 catches for 106 yards and one touchdown. Imagine what Randy Moss could do to Santana Moss' game.
3. The Redskins have nothing to lose this year: Sure, Randy Moss could poison the locker room, and sure, he's owed $6.4 million this year. But let's be honest: the Redskins have to play for this year, in a sense. They have already traded two high picks for Donovan McNabb, and at 4-4 in a wide-open NFC, they still have a chance to make a playoff run. They are just 1.5 games behind first-place New York, and they still get to play the Giants twice. With Moss, and even with a leaky offensive line, this may be a playoff team. And if it doesn't work, they can just let Moss go after the season anyway.
I realize it's a risk, but the Redskins have to make a claim for Moss if they can. No, Moss is not an offensive lineman, but he solves one of the Redskins' major weaknesses. The team is already in disarray anyway, so why not take the risk?