It didn’t take long for the San Francisco 49ers to ship Alex Smith out on the first boat to Kansas City.
Arguably one of the greatest wide receivers in the game, the 36-year old Moss took to Twitter to wish the 49ers luck, following reports that surfaced hours earlier surrounding his future with the team.
“Wished we could’ve finished the job!!” wrote Moss. “Thanks for the opportunity and good luck in the future 9ers.”
While there is no official word from the team, Moss’ words pretty much say there is zero chance of him returning in a 49ers outfit next season.
But despite coach Jim Harbaugh’s enthusiasm towards bringing Moss back to the team earlier in January, it’s time again to take a look at the market - and much like we did last year – determine which, if any, teams could use an aging (but not exactly cheap) wide receiver.
The market is set to be harsh on Moss. Guys like Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker and Danny Amendola are all free agents this offseason – so it’s unsure if Moss will wind up anywhere at all.
Even so, this is the early list so far (and feel free to tell me if there’s anyone I’ve left out):
The Dolphins are still after someone to coax second year quarterback Ryan Tannehill into a more comfortable role with a number one go-to-guy he can rely on.
Moss probably doesn’t offer that, considering he only offered the 49ers 28-receptions and zero touchdowns in the postseason. But signing him to a one-year deal could be worth it. Especially if it steers Tannehill away from the “second year blues” and gives him some leadership. All of this also works well if the Dolphins wind up drafting a guy like Keenan Allen in the first round.
St. Louis Rams
All signs point to receiver Danny Amendola hitting the free agency market come March 12, which means the Rams need to find a replacement wideout who can play in the slot. Moss probably isn’t the perfect fit for that, but if second year receiver Chris Givens fills Amendola’s absence – Moss can make plays happen on his own accord.
Film from the 49ers NFC Championship mauling of the Green Bay Packers shows that opposing defenses won’t commit to Moss one on one. Instead, teams play it cautious, and double team whenever possible. Normally, this leaves somebody with a lot of speed wide open or with little coverage to take advantage. See Michael Crabtree’s 2012 stats for proof.
If nothing else though, the Rams keeping Moss within the NFC West could stick it to the 49ers a little if it all pays off.
Who knows what Percy Harvin is doing, and Christian Ponder can’t afford to enter next season without a receiver inside a division that features some of the league’s best.
Aside from Harvin, Devin Aromashodu is also a free agent, and could hit the market next week. That means a return to Moss’ old team could be on the cards, if the Vikings choose to look away from younger guys like Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings.
The Vikings say they aren’t going to trade Harvin, so we’ll go with that for now. But with bigger needs in the first round of the draft (mainly on the defensive line), free agency is the likely route for general manager Rick Spielman – unless he can find someone else in later rounds.
New York Jets
There’s a few mock drafts floating around that project Keenan Allan to land with the Jets at the ninth spot. Even if that happens though, the need for wide receivers in New York is still just as huge.
The likelihood of Moss landing in New York is slim. If he really wants to win a championship, Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez are an easy no-go zone right now. But last time Moss was on the market, the Jets were reportedly one of the teams interested – and since he’s a veteran talent, it’s safe to say they’ll take a look once again.
Moss would offer the Jets a deep threat that they’ve been missing. Braylon Edwards is an unrestricted free agent this offseason, right next to Chaz Schilens. Neither would be a huge loss to the offense, and with RB Shonn Greene as good as gone, we’ll probably see a whole new Jets attack next season.
If that is the case, there’s always going to be room for a veteran like Moss on any team. Cap space is a big issue here, yes. But Moss could offer the Jets some speed and quickness on short routes, that even Sanchez could benefit from.
Follow Ryan Cook on Twitter.