After spending the last eight seasons catching passes from all-pro Drew Brees, Lance Moore will get the opportunity to work with two-time Super Bowl champ Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers. The former New Orleans Saints receiver agreed to a two-year deal with the Steelers. The financial terms were not disclosed, but he was signed as a bargain for sure.
Moore (5-9, 190) who is 30 years old was originally signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Toledo. He was signed to the New Orleans Saints practice squad in 2005. Moore spent the majority of the 2005-06 seasons between the Saints’ practice squad and the active roster. He caught just 37 passes for 457 yards and two touchdowns last season, each of those numbers his lowest since 2009. He is from Westerville, Ohio so essentially a homecoming for him. Welcome to the ‘Burgh.
In eight seasons with the Saints, Moore started 30-of-101 regular season games played and 1-of-6 postseason contests, including helping New Orleans win its first Super Bowl (XLIV). Moore’s 346 receptions during the regular season rank fourth in Saints’ history while his 38 touchdown receptions rank fifth and his 4,281 receiving yards rank sixth. The Westerville, Ohio native also recorded 47 punt returns for 387 yards with a long of 72 yards and 354 yards on 18 kick returns with a long of 36 yards. In the postseason, Moore registered 13 receptions for 132 yards and one touchdown. Moore was released by the Saints this offseason after a 37-catch season, but was injured for much of the season. He has averaged 61 catches per year the previous three years and had monster seasons in 2008 and 2012.
Lance Moore will work out of the slot as Jerricho Cotchery did the past two seasons and most likely will become the Steelers #2 receiver. Lance Moore is more versatile than Emmanuel Sanders, who was lost to the Denver Broncos, and Cotchery, who was signed by the Carolina Panthers. Moore provides the Steelers with a great possession receiver and a touchdown maker, but also can be a vertical threat. He is a veteran and has proven NFL numbers. This is a good deal for the Steelers considering their depleted wide receiving core and the lack of a true #2 receiver (Markus Wheaton is only coming into his second season and played sparingly as a rookie). Moore will definitely help in the red zone and move the chains. He is a reliable receiver especially underneath coverage and provides an intangible - veteran leadership and presence in the locker room.
Moore excelled in the Saints wide-open offense. In his only pre-Sean Payton season, Moore played in only four games and had just one reception, playing mostly on the practice squad so only time will tell if he can adjust to the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive system. Changing systems is a difficult transition for any receiver, but in his case, there is another dynamic to consider. He has played his whole career in the comforts of a dome stadium and now has to adjust to the many different elements that exist at Heinz Field.
I’m not always a numbers or stats guy when it comes to assessing a player’s value, but there are several metrics that football gurus use that project Lance Moore being a good signing for any team. Pro Football Focus' wide receiver rating measured Moore as the No. 30 receiver in the NFL last season even though he had a ‘down’ year by his standards. His versatility was a key factor according to this rating. Moore lined up in the slot and out wide, which ranked above-average at both positions.
Despite the praise from the Saints organization, Lance Moore's release was expected. A quote from the Saints front office “Lance Moore came to us as a rookie and over nine years he made an outstanding contribution to our franchise. He constantly worked hard to get better, showed great enthusiasm for the game and played a big role in our success. He also made significant contributions off the field to our community. Lance’s performance has earned the respect of our entire organization and fans and we thank him for everything.”
Also of note – the Steelers will meet with free agent RB LeGarrette Blount on Sunday night. Blount came out of Oregon in 2010 and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 27-year-old rushed for 772 yards and seven TDs on 153 carries in regular season play for the New England Patriots in 2013. In the postseason, Blount piled up 166 yards and four touchdowns in the Patriots demolition of the Colts.
The 6-foot, 250-pound Blount is a strong runner and power back who would improve the Steelers desire to play ball control and capitalize on goal line opportunities. I don’t remember their 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 percentage, but I know it was dreadful. He can help in this area. Blount would give the Steelers dependable second option behind Bell, which has eluded them in free agency so far. He is a big back with the kind of power that was displayed by former Steeler Jerome Bettis. LeGarrette Blount is a prototypical Steelers back and should be seriously considered for the right price.