Filling the Randy Moss Void

Now that New England has traded Randy Moss, the question now is who will replace Moss' production and presence as one of the top vertical threats in the NFL.

2009 third-round pick Brandon Tate will likely be the first man up to replace Moss.

Often overshadowed by his University of North Carolina teammates Hakeem Nicks and Brooks Foster, Tate averaged over 20 yards per reception during a college career that was cut short by a torn ACL and MCL in his right knee.

Tate has demonstrated that his explosiveness is back, leading the NFL with 601 return yards, including a 103-yard return in Monday night's blowout win over the Miami Dolphins. Tate has just 11 NFL receptions, though, and none are longer than 30 yards, on his NFL resume.

The ability to stretch the field is certainly there with Tate, but until he proves that he can take the top off opposing defenses, New England will struggle to open up the underneath routes that Wes Welker has excelled in the last 3+ seasons.

ESPN's Mike Reiss suggests the Patriots may continue to use multiple tight end sets to fill the void Moss' departure creates.

With fourth-round tight end Aaron Hernandez possessing receiver-like speed and athleticism, that would certainly makes a lot of sense. Hernandez appears to be a natural when "flexed" off the line of scrimmage, where his size and speed creates mismatches with NFL linebackers and safeties.

It is worth nothing that a few months ago, New England's front office expressed their concerns about Hernandez's eligibility on a week-to-week basis.

Why New England traded Moss is obvious. He hasn't been happy with his contract for quite some time, and according to the Boston Herald, had asked his new agent, Joel Segal, to request a trade.

But it's impossible to sympathize with the Patriots this morning. They knew what they were getting with Moss, both on the field and off.

While everyone continues to marvel at how cheaply New England acquired Moss from the Oakland Raiders in 2007, few seem willing to acknowledge that Moss was had so cheaply because he had openly quit on the Raiders in 2006. That ignorance was evidenced when Moss received 10 votes for the 2007 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award, finishing second to Greg Ellis as award-voters applauded Moss' ability to overcome the debilitating condition commonly known as "boredom".

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