If Moss wants deal he must leave Revis Island

Randy Moss(notes) wants to play for the New England Patriots after his contract ends this season. He made that clear with his comments this week.

Bill Belichick doesn't hand out new deals for sentimental reasons. The Patriots coach is a what-can-you-do-for-me-tomorrow kind of guy. He's made that clear with years of personnel decisions.

Moss is 33, an age when a receiver's foot-speed can slow considerably. As great as he's been – arguably the best receiver in NFL history not named Jerry Rice – and as much value as he brings to the Patriots' high-octane offense – 47 touchdowns in the past three seasons – its reasonable to assume Belichick is taking a wait-and-see attitude. BB isn't talking, of course.

This makes Sunday's game at the New York Jets so important, not just for the Patriots but also for Moss' career. The Jets' star defensive back, Darrelle Revis(notes), is waiting. No time like now for Moss to begin convincing Belichick he still has it.

In two games against Revis last season, Moss had just nine receptions for 58 yards and one touchdown. Moss' impact is greater than his stats, of course. By stretching the defense, he opens up the underneath routes that Wes Welker(notes) feasts on (Welker had 15 grabs in the second Jets game last year). And it wasn't like Revis lived exclusively in single coverage; he got safety help at times.

That didn't stop Revis from calling Moss a "slouch" on the NFL Network.

Moss responded on ESPN this week that, "We're coming to the Meadowlands on Sunday, man, so you got 60 minutes of this 'slouch.' "

So it's on. And for Moss it's more than just a single game.

He understands he has a great situation in New England, where the triumvirate of himself, Tom Brady(notes) and Welker has thrived. Before signing with the Patriots, Moss was drifting. Some believed he was a washed-up malcontent after he caught just 11 TDs in two seasons with the dysfunctional Oakland Raiders.

New England offered a rebirth then. It offers the best future now. "I'm very blessed," he said. He wants a chance to continue it. He considers a contract extension, like the one Brady received last week, as an appropriate sign of appreciation from Belichick.

"This is my last year of my contract," Moss said. "There hasn't been anything discussed. There hasn't been anything said. Not a letter, not nothing."

If the season runs its course and no extension is offered, Moss said he's gone (although that likely would be a sign that the Pats don't want him). Moss hasn't disclosed what kind of terms he's seeking – he currently makes $9 million per year – which could be a factor. The fact that there have been no discussions says that money isn't New England's chief concern. It's Moss' performance.

"I've already shown I can play at a high level at age 33," Moss said. "For me to be offered a contract after the season is over, I think that would be a smack in my face. So I don't want to [go through that]."

Actually Moss has shown he can play at a high level at age 32. This year is a work in progress (five catches, 59 yards in the Pats' season-opening victory over Cincinnati.) The trick is making Belichick believe he can continue doing it at 34, 35 and so on.

Moss scored a TD in the second meeting vs. Revis and the Jets last season.
(Al Pereira/Getty Images)

One game won't determine that, but if the defensive backbone of the Patriots' bitter divisional rival can lock him down, then why would New England commit to him long-term?

Have his way with Revis, and Moss can start making his case for an in-season extension. Wind up a "slouch," and the writing is on the wall.

"I called him a slouch for a reason, because that [first] game I felt like he played like a slouch," Revis said this week of Moss' quiet four-catch, 24-yard performance in a game the Jets won in Week 2. This is a fairly friendly feud. Revis went on to magnanimously call Moss "the best in the league."

For his part, Moss said he was motivated during the offseason by the job Revis did on him. Revis was so focused on Moss that when both players were off the field, Revis would position himself directly across from Moss on the opposite sideline.

"If he went to the bathroom, I went, too," Revis joked.

Moss noticed.

"I'm not scared to say this: I prided my offseason on Revis. I take pride in what I do. What he did last year, he opened my eyes up as a wide receiver. I prided my offseason on staying off of 'Revis Island.' "

Staying off "Revis Island" may be the key to Randy Moss staying in New England. Belichick doesn't hand out charity contracts. He's cut Super Bowl heroes, team captains and both personal and fan favorites.

It's a cold, cruel business in Foxborough. No excuses. No apologies. Randy Moss will be allowed none. If he wants to stick around, he needs to prove his worth. That starts Sunday by showing he can still get over on the best cover man in the league.