While most think that being the offspring of a legend is an easy and privileged path in life, it also comes with different hardships. Living up to the last name and expectations attached to it is one, as are more stringent critics over some others.
Such is the case of Thaddeus Moss, who is the son of one of the best wide receivers to ever play in the NFL, Randy Moss. Oh yeah—he also plays tight end for the Cincinnati Bengals.
The younger Moss became a very likable figure in the magical run by the Louisiana State University Tigers back in 2019. He was productive in their insanely high-powered offense, led by Joe Burrow a few years back.
But, now he finds himself grinding for a roster spot on a team and in a system that seems to be his best shot at a long-term NFL career. He’ll need to earn that spot by showing he’s a well-rounded player in his third pro season.
- Height: 6’3”
- Weight: 249
- Age: 24 (Born in May)
- Position: Tight end
- College: LSU
- Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
- Experience: Entering third season
Moss signed a one-year deal (reserve/futures deal) with the Bengals this past spring, totaling $705,000. That same number is the cap hit, accounting for just 0.3% of the team’s total cap. There is no dead money if they release him and they’d save that $705,000, should he be released, per Spotrac and OverTheCap.com.
As mentioned above, Moss comes from a great football lineage. Even so, Moss had and continues to find tough paths to get onto the field and receive playing time.
He started his collegiate career at North Carolina State University, logging six catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. He then intended to transfer to LSU, but in doing so, he missed the entire 2017 season because of NCAA transfer rules.
In the subsequent season, Moss took a redshirt year after sustaining a foot injury. But, in 2019, he was a big part of the historic Tigers season, racking up 47 catches for 570 yards and four scores. It was no small feat with a roster that included Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, Terrace Marshall, Jr. and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Going into the 2020 draft, it was hard to gauge just where Moss would go. Without immense size, a perceived lack of elite athleticism and no testing done by him to back up any preconceived notions, most felt that he’d be a day three target for teams. Many Bengals fans were clamoring for him to join Joe Burrow in Cincinnati—especially with a late-round flyer pick.
Instead, Moss went undrafted and ended up signing a lucrative deal with Washington, reportedly choosing that destination even over Cincinnati. Moss subsequently suffered an injury and then was placed on I.R., only to be waived the following spring.
The Bengals pounced on him through the waiver wire, only to be waived during final cuts, despite some flashes in preseason action. He re-signed to their 2021 practice squad awaiting his next chance.
The team reportedly had designs for him to be in the offensive game plan to some degree, but bad luck hit Moss again. He injured himself in pregame warm-ups and didn’t see the field again the rest of the year.
So, what now? The Bengals did little high-end investing in the tight end position, save for Hayden Hurst, who was signed as a remedy for the loss of C.J. Uzomah. Cincinnati eschewed using a pick in this year’s draft at the position, placing Moss in competition with Wilcox, free agent Nick Eubanks, converted wide receiver Scotty Washington and rookie Justin Rigg.
Moss is entering that oh-so-critical third year wherein a lot of players see a significant jump. He’ll need to show growth if he’s going to make the roster and provide positive contributions in 2022.
Of course, his initial path to making and sticking on the final roster will start on special teams—a role in which Wilcox currently has the leg up on him. But, he’ll also need to rely on his rapport with Burrow (both on the field and as close friends) and his general knack of having above-average field navigation.
It’s safe to say that most of the fan contingent wants to see Moss succeed for a number of reasons. Continuing the cool storyline of that LSU championship team parlaying similar success to the Bengals is one of them, and seeing an underdog (a weird phrase, given who his father is) finally earn his chance to contribute after so many injuries and difficulties along the way.
It’s extremely difficult to say at this point, so we’ll go with 25 percent. With Hurst and Drew Sample being locks, that leaves just one or two roster spots at the position group between Moss, Washington, Eubanks, Wilcox and Rigg.
If Moss doesn’t make the roster in 2022, the ensuing question then would be where his next steps would take him.