Why Randy Moss shouldn't retire

If he comes back, Randy Moss can still be a legitimate deep threat in the NFL. Greg M. Cooper/US Presswire

There is reason to believe the New England Patriots made Randy Moss irrelevant long before we reached this point. Before Minnesota, before Tennessee, before this. Which is not a shot at the Patriots but part of the case for why Moss should be playing in 2011. Because it might not be about what Moss couldn't do well any more and might be more about what the Patriots had discovered about their own personnel in 2010.

Last year, the Patriots simply didn't throw the ball deep down the field, not entirely neutering Moss as a receiver but forgoing what was essentially his greatest strength -- the deep ball. (Imagine Shaq minus the driving alley-oop from the elbow.) The question is, was Moss still the ultimate decoy, or the ultimate in decay? Like an aging Shaq, we are left to wonder: Did the play disappear because of the player or because of the system?

After a look at the evidence, there's good reason to believe that Moss, though not the impossible cover he was just a few years ago, shouldn't be done in the NFL.

First, consider the system.

Until we fire a guy and the new coach discovers a litany of untapped talent, we like to assume that a coach is coaching to his personnel -- that the system in place, if not perfect for the personnel, is designed to optimize what's available. If a coach of Bill Belichick's pedigree isn't using Moss, we have to assume the player has lost some adequacy.