Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Lovie Smith was always expected to sign a few former Chicago Bears players, and he did just that today by inking tight end Steve Maneri and cornerback D.J. Moore. The signing of Moore is especially interesting for the Buccaneers, because he will likely play a significant role on defense and has plenty of past success in this league, especially under Smith in Chicago.
It was disappointing to see the Bears let Moore go in favor of Kelvin Hayden, who was more expensive and worse than Moore. It was also disappointing to see Moore receive his walking papers from the Carolina Panthers- they signed him in the 2013 offseason- in late October after he struggled through a serious knee injury, especially since he was better than a number of corners on the Panthers roster at the time.
However, Moore has received an even better opportunity with the Buccaneers now that he is reunited with Smith, and I would be surprised if he isn’t the team’s starting nickel corner (yes, the slot corner should be referred to as a starter) over Leonard Johnson, who is honestly a significant liability and needs to be upgraded. He was burned frequently last season, and Moore should be an upgrade over him. In fact, one of the Buccaneers needs this offseason was to get deeper at corner, and signing Moore knocks that goal out of the park. Darrelle Revis is arguably the league’s best corner and second-year pro Johnthan Banks has all the tools to be a very good CB in this league, but the Bucs were looking precariously thin at CB before this signing.
While Moore is just 26 years old, he’s also been in the league for five seasons and had a nice three-season stretch in Chicago from 2010-2012 in which he appeared in 42 games and recorded ten interceptions and 22 passes defended in those three seasons. He was also a capable run defender, which can’t be ignored when defending the slot.
I’m not saying that he is going to be a great player or anything, but Smith and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made a solid move today by bringing Moore aboard. He bolsters the team’s depth at CB, which is always an important position to have depth at and, again, wasn’t a position where the Bucs had depth at coming into the offseason. The Vanderbilt product should also be an upgrade of some significance over Johnson, and it’s not like Moore is on the downswing or anything at the ripe age of 26. In fact, Moore is one to watch closely this upcoming season now that he’s in Tampa, because he had his most successful seasons with Smith and also gets to work with Leslie Frazier, who should do an excellent job of helping Moore’s game. He fits the prototype of a solid, well-rounded slot corner, and that’s exactly the kind of experienced player that the Bucs needed at the position. As you can see by his INT totals from 2010-2012, he also has adequate ball skills, which make him an even more attractive slot CB.
It’s always hyperbolic to call the signing of a slot CB like Moore a “great” move, but it’s certainly a solid one and carries with it no risk and a potentially nifty reward.