OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Surveying the NFL landscape from a Maryland hotel room early on a Tuesday morning:
I am a fan of the five-year waiting period for players, because I think it takes the emotion out of the voting. And I think the five-year period will be good for Moss. I'd be very surprised if he were not elected to the Hall -- he is the best deep-threat receiver I have covered in my 27 years in the business -- but there are some lingering issues that should have their proper airing. Dogging it in Oakland is a big one. The whole issue of "being a distraction,'' or whatever acting like a selfish kid should be called, is something else, but I've never really been clear about whether we should consider that even remotely, seeing that we're asked to consider a player's on-field performance only.
As I consider Moss' total career, I think the dominance he showed for so long -- only Jerry Rice has more than his 153 touchdown catches -- is Hall-worthy. The pros likely outweigh the cons, but the five-year wait will be a good means of putting everything Moss did in proper focus.
Now onto your email:
• PROBABLY NOT
Cincinnati is always going to have to overpay players to get them to sign, or take players on a downward path (Nate Clements), or be the haven for guys looking for a career jumpstart (Manny Lawson). Sorry. That's just the way life is, and will be as long Cincinnati is perceived by players and agents as a second-class NFL team. Or third-.
• TIKI WAITS
Whoa, whoa. "Well past the point of diminishing returns when he retired?'' Do you watch football? In his last three years, Barber was first, first and second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. In his last year, he averaged a 104-yard rushing game. Teams, rightfully, don't want to bring back a 36-year-old running back who hasn't played since 2006. I don't blame them. But let's not knock the most productive back in football in his last three seasons for what he did then. Now, as for the present, Barber would love to sign with the Steelers, and I still think it's possible. But he may have to wait for a team to suffer a running back injury or two before he gets a shot in some team's camp.
• GOOD QUESTION
You certainly sound VERY DISAPPOINTED, and may I add an exclamation point? The Cowboys wanted more than anything in this free market to re-sign their left tackle, which they did in Doug Free, and to get Nnamdi Asomugha, which they did not. By the time they'd lost out on Asomugha (and on lesser-light corners like Josh Wilson, who signed with Washington), they figured, correctly, it would be a mistake to overpay for a cornerback like Kelly Jennings, who is not as good as Mike Jenkins or Terence Newman. I don't blame you for being frustrated, but there's got to be a candidate out there who would improve your team for you to spend real money.
• WHAT CHOICE DO THE COLTS HAVE?
The Colts are always going to have a haves and have-nots roster. They've been top- and bottom-heavy during the Polian Era, and it's won them a lot of games. Now, with at least two more valued veterans to sign long-term (Reggie Wayne, Robert Mathis), I never thought Indianapolis was going to be a serious player for anyone -- except maybe a home-run threat out of the backfield like Reggie Bush, if he could have been acquired on the cheap.