For the second consecutive year, the 49ers have made an offseason splash by signing a wide receiver with arguably as much baggage as talent.
With free agency set to get underway in less than 24 hours, the Niners have removed one of the most talked about available players from the market, signing Randy Moss to a one-year deal, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Moss retired last summer after receiving little to no interest on the free-agent market. At the age of 34, many figured the five-time All-Pro had played his last game. His trademark speed had faded and he was a shell of his former self in quasi-embarrassing stints with Minnesota and Tennessee during the 2010 season.
But last month, the now-35-year-old announced his intentions to make a comeback. After apparently lighting it up in a workout for the Saints earlier this month, he met with San Francisco on Monday, and is now reportedly off the market.
The 49ers have over $20 million in cap space, and Moss’s deal will probably be riddled with incentives. The timing is interesting, because the team is reportedly trying to iron out the final details of a three-year contract extension for impending free-agent quarterback Alex Smith.
It’s too early to tell what this means for Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams, but adding Moss at a bargain-basement rate and with incentives certainly can’t hurt a team with a solid amount of cap space. On paper, Moss makes the Niners better offensively. At the very least, he’ll be a big option for Smith on third-down throws, taking away attention from Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. At the very best, Jim Harbaugh will work his magic and turn Moss back into the home-run hitter he was five years ago in New England.
The only risk is bringing Moss’s personality into a locker room like this one. Crabtree already has a diva mentality and Davis has had issues with discipline in the past. But the 49ers survived without allowing Braylon Edwards to poison the locker room in 2011, so there’s little reason to believe Harbaugh can’t handle the his new big-personality wideout in 2012.
Especially since Moss knows that if he trips up, the Niners won’t think twice about cutting bait.