Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Brandon Tate, and Taylor Price.

That’s what Tom Brady now has to work with at the wide receiver position for the rest of 2010.

Obviously there’s also Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, but neither of those two players are a big enough deep threat to command opposing defenses to put safety help on them as part of their game plan.

Make no mistake, Randy Moss being dealt to Minnesota is a big blow to the Patriots offense. Fans may be thinking, “don’t let the door hit you…”, but the compensation (a third round pick in the 2011 draft according to Adam Schefter – and they had to package 7th round pick with him to get it) isn’t going to help this team for the remainder of this season.

Obviously something happened that prompted this transaction. Mike Reiss reported Wednesday that Moss and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien had a heated discussion during halftime Monday night, and by the time the game was over Moss still finished without a catch.

It sounds like the final straw may have happened after Gary Tanguay of Comcast Sports New England Tweeted that Moss and head coach Bill Belichick apparently had a verbal altercation yesterday after the receiver showed up “unhappy”.

“Sources say Moss showed up unhappy today,” Tweeted Tanguay. ”He and BB had words. He is gone to Vikes if he and Minn workout a new deal.”

Well the deal got worked out, and now he’s headed to Minnesota.


Randy Moss didn’t look happy after the Miami game Monday night, and obviously something happened that prompted him to be shipped off to Minnesota. (PHOTO:Icon/SMI)

The only logical explanation, and this is purely speculation, is that those “words” must have consisted of, “unless I get a new deal – I’m not playing another down of football here.” One would have to believe it must have been a conversation that extreme for them to make such a drastic move mid-season.

The team released an official statement on Moss this afternoon, but obviously they’re not going to reveal what exactly happened. Belichick simply said that the move was made “in the best interest of the football team.”

“In this business, there are complex and often difficult decisions,” said Belichick in the statement. “But it is my responsibility to make them based on what I feel is best for our football team, in both the short term and long term. I am grateful for the opportunity to have coached Randy Moss and aside from facing him as an opponent, I wish him the very best for the remainder of his Hall of Fame career.”

So now the big question is: now that he’s gone, what exactly do they do?

Many had high expectations for Edelman and Tate coming into this season, but both have gotten off to a slow start. Edelman’s been battling a foot injury, and missed week one against the Bengals. Since then he’s caught 4 passes for 14 yards, but really hasn’t been a factor in each of the last few games. Tate has been great on kickoff returns, but as a receiver he has 11 catches for 135 yards and also really hasn’t been an impact player offensively so far this season.

Then there’s Price, who really hasn’t contributed at all. He’s been inactive for each game this season, and caught just five passes for 40-yards during the exhibition season.

Between these three players, it’s tough to look at any of them and honestly believe they’re going to be able to fill Moss’ shoes. His presence alone helped take the heat off of guys like Welker because he demanded additional attention due of the type of threat he was, which allowed Welker more space to get open. His loss leaves them with a gaping hole that changes the face of this offense, and to let a player like that go without a replacement midseason is enough to leave any fan scratching their head and wondering if there’s at least a back-up plan in place.

The tough part also was the fact that even if they let him walk after the year was over, they still didn’t have viable solution on the roster. We’ve seen this team bring in all kinds of veterans over the years, and the majority of them simply haven’t panned out. According to published reports the team told him they weren’t going to do a deal with him prior to the start of the season, which prompted his quotes of being unhappy and “unappreciated”. They say the devil you know is better than the one you don’t, and if nothing else they knew what having him on the field meant for the rest of the receivers. Obviously at age 33 he’s only got a few good years yet, so letting him walk instead of trying to keep him in a Patriots uniform makes you wonder what the back-up plan was.

How they’re planning on replacing him going forward is the one thing that fans have to wonder about. It’s possible that with an additional 1st round pick on the way thanks to the Richard Seymour trade, they could have finally been targeting that position. Patriots fans would have probably loved to see someone brought in next April to replace him had Moss simply left via free agency. Looking at the prospects who are expected to be in that draft, there are a handful of impact guys who would potentially fit here. Granted it’s pretty unusual for Belichick to spend a first round pick on a receiver, but this could have possibly been a time where they decided to draft a younger impact player offensively to compliment Welker for the future. We haven’t seen it in past drafts, but stranger things have happened.

In the meantime the problem is there are still 12 regular season games left, and anyone they may have been targeting in April won’t help them in the immediate future. To add insult to injury, he’ll be returning in a Vikings uniform on October 31st in Foxboro.

Unfortunately for all his talk, and his actions off the field, Moss is still an impact guy when he’s on it – regardless of how many catches he has each week. They needed him, and one would have to believe they at least plan on trying to give Brady another viable option now that he’s gone.

Because at this point this deal is puzzling to say the least, and unless there’s a plan in place to fill that void, Brady just lost a valuable weapon in their offense.