By  Dan Snapp, Patriots Daily Staff

Your guess is as good as mine.

The Patriots trading Randy Moss makes no sense, from the compensation (a measly third-rounder) to the timing (game five while tied for the AFC East lead) to the trading partner (October 31st opponent Minnesota). Vikings coach Brad Childress loves to tell the press all the times he thinks he outwitted Bill Belichick. Today, he’s right.

There’s got to be more to the story. There’s no way a team simply gives away* their top deep and red zone threat in the midst of a tight divisional race.

* While a third-round pick is nothing to be sniffed at, a 2011 pick does the Patriots no good in 2010 (and possibly no good in 2011, for that matter, given the looming lockout).

Throughout Moss’s time with the Patriots, he’s been the good soldier. We’ve never seen the petulance that famously followed him in Minnesota and Oakland. He had contempt for the press, but on Belichick’s Patriots, that’s a good thing.

So what happened? Do the Patriots think his skills have eroded? With fewer balls coming his way, has he become a locker room cancer? And as petty as it makes the organization sound, was Moss’s week one public admonishment of “not feeling wanted” a bridge too far?

We all have heard and get the old Branch Rickey quote, “Trade a player a year too early rather than a year too late,” but this really doesn’t apply, not for what they’re getting back. What’s a third-rounder to the New England Patriots? It’s a pick they’ve blown much more often than they’ve hit. And as much as the Patriots like to continually be future-facing, there’s only so much future for Tom Brady to still face.

There will some knee-jerk rationalizing to come, with terms like “bridge year” thrown out. There will be suggestions Belichick soberly looked at his squad and decided it ain’t happening this year. People will eventually say multiple picks in rounds 1-4 next year justifies the move.

I don’t buy it, because I don’t believe Belichick ever gives up on a season. There’s got to be something else.

Belichick will probably offer his usual platitudes, “We’re just trying to do what’s best for the organization … we saw good value in the deal … Randy’s been a tremendous player for the Patriots and we thank him and wish him well …” yada yada yada.

We’ve never asked for more explanation from Belichick, always taking him at his word whenever he stated his goal was to make the team better and win games.

Not this time. This time, the team got worse. We’d just like to know why.