Randy Moss is expected to be waived by the Vikings, and now that the trade deadline has passed, he will be subject to the NFL's waiver-wire process, even though he's a vested veteran.
Now, 31 other teams — in reverse order of the standings — will have a slotted chance to claim Moss. If a team claims him, it would assume Moss' contract for this season.
If no team claims Moss, he would be a free agent, open to choose his destination.
The team that adds Moss likely will have to have a strong-minded and secure coach, a quarterback with similar qualities, the bravado to make such a move and an owner who would sign off on it.
Here are some possibilities to land Moss, before or after the waiver process, in reverse order of the current standings:
49ers (2-6) — They perhaps saved their season by winning in London and are in need of weapons to add to the passing game, which could be in Troy Smith's hands. Smith is not a polished passer, but he did complete some jump balls for which Moss is known for being on the receiving end of. It's a long, long shot. But Mike Singletary is fighting for his job, owner Jed York is desperate to back up his prediction to win the NFC West and Moss fits the mold of the kind of character player (e.g. Michael Crabtree) that the team has been willing to gamble on.
Broncos (2-6) — Any coach or front-office figure with a tie to Bill Belichick will have to be mentioned, which brings us to Josh McDaniels. Although adding Moss would appear to go against the culture McDaniels has strived to create with young, hungry, hard-working players, Moss might be the rare exception. McDaniels saw firsthand the effect Moss had on the Patriots' offense in 2007 and even in '08, and he could be convinced to take a shot to help turn around a Broncos team that has fallen hard after a 2-2 start.
Chargers (3-5) — GM A.J. Smith came out of the Vincent Jackson situation looking bad, and his refusal to trade Jackson and stand firm on his asking price of second- and third-round choices could leave the team with nothing in return if and when Jackson leaves. So they could displace Jackson with a similar style of talent in Moss, if not a few years older, and give the team two dynamic passing options to go with TE Antonio Gates. The Chargers won an emotional game on Sunday and are known for their late-season pushes. Adding Moss might be the impetus this team could use.
Redskins (4-4) — If you're simply looking for a team that fits the model of interesting clubs — strong-minded coach, gutsy owner, quarterback who is used to big personalities — then the Redskins are a perfect fit. Daniel Snyder loves to gamble on greatness, and though many of those moves have backfired and he has ceded some personnel control to head coach/president Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen, those men could be convinced that Moss is worth the risk. Right now, you have Anthony Armstrong running 9-routes and the Donovan McNabb benching from Sunday. Snagging Moss would be a sure-fire way to quell the heat on McNabb's future in D.C. and give the team the vertical threat it badly needs.
Rams (4-4) — The team looked hard at a trade for Vincent Jackson, who has his baggage, and Moss would give the suddenly contending Rams and QB Sam Bradford a shocking and needed addition to the offense. Sunday, Bradford put on a short-passing clinic, but at some point he'll need to go vertical. The Rams qualify as long odds to join the Moss derby, but it's not out of the question, especially now that they are relevant. Adding Moss would fire up the natives, too.
Jaguars (4-4) — GM Gene Smith has worked hard to clean up the locker room, so a Moss-to-Jacksonville move would appear remote. But it would strike as a rallying point for a flawed team in a sometimes ambivalent market, and Moss would add punch to a sometimes punchless offense. They are not among the favorites, though.
Seahawks (4-3) — Pete Carroll has security, and the NFC West is wide open. Moss fits, but only so much.
Dolphins (4-3) — GM Jeff Ireland would be more likely to make this move now that Bill Parcells no longer has an office in the building, and signing Moss would prevent the rival Patriots from getting Moss back. But this would be a stretch-run move and not a long-term one, as it would be very difficult to sign Moss beyond this season with Brandon Marshall already on the books.
Eagles (4-3) — They kicked the Moss tires in 2008 and have a head coach/decision maker in Andy Reid who has the guts to pull off a big move. And the idea of Moss on the field with all those playmakers certainly is enticing. But the Eagles also have been down the Terrell Owens road before and might not want to upset the herd at this point with a unique situation happening at QB.
Bears (4-3) — It would not be Tim Ruskell's style to add Moss. But GM Jerry Angelo has shown far more willingness to gamble on players the past few seasons, going after Jay Cutler and Julius Peppers with surprising determination. Moss would give Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Martz frightening possibilities, but would it matter if the offensive line can't block on seven-step drops?
Packers (5-3) — Injuries and the unique opportunity to get Moss, who has obvious Packers ties, might be enough to entice GM Ted Thompson, who has taken it on the chin from fans who wanted him to trade for Moss in 2007 and who were angry when he failed to trade for a running back this season. And some Packers officials might add that the chance to stick it to the Vikings — and transitively, Brett Favre — would be sweet redemption. But Thompson is also notoriously conservative with his moves and very cognizant of the locker-room dynamic when he puts his rosters together.
Colts (4-2) — On the surface, it might look like an interesting situation considering all their injuries at receiver and tight end. But GM Bill Polian seeks only the hardest and most determined of workers in his leaders, and a Moss move would go against that grain severely.
Jets (5-2) — Why not? If anyone would welcome a larger-than-life personality, it would be Rex Ryan, and GM Mike Tannenbaum has been as gutsy a trigger puller as there has been in the NFL the past few seasons. If the Jets went after Moss, they might just cut Braylon Edwards. Would that be a huge upgrade? Perhaps not, but it would be a classic Jets move, replete with the chance to prevent their rivals — the Patriots — from reacquiring a premier talent.
Chiefs (5-2) — Like Josh McDaniels and the Broncos, you can't overlook the Scott Pioli-Matt Cassel connection with Moss. Dwayne Bowe has been up and down, and Moss could serve as great motivation on the other side of the field. This also would seem to fly in the face of the Chiefs' important youth movement and focus on hard workers, and head coach Todd Haley has butted heads with similar personalities in the past. But the Chiefs are limited offensively, especially through the air, and could use a field tilter to balance things out now that they are contenders again.
Patriots (6-1) — The ultimate wild card in the equation and the team you absolutely can't cut from this list, not with mastermind Bill Belichick at the controls. Moss professed his undying love for Belichick, Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots with whom he was mostly happy for parts of four seasons. It's not likely the Patriots would claim him and assume the salary they just got rid of, but if he comes free ... watch out. You absolutely have to include them among the favorites to reacquire Moss in what would be an unbelievable turn of events.