METAIRIE - The contract waiting game wore on New Orleans Saints wide receiver Lance Moore for the past couple of years. Moore bided his time for the past two offseasons as his hand was pushed to sign restricted free-agent tenders.
The Saints put a restricted free-agent tender on Moore once again this offseason. But the new collective bargaining agreement opened the door for him to become an unrestricted free agent, and one of New Orleans’ most productive and consistent wideouts was looking for a long-term payday.
Moore tested the market, and received plenty of interest. But quarterback Drew Brees made a plea to the masses on Twitter to push for Moore to remain with the Saints.
Moore’s loyal followers were heard loud and clear as he agreed to a five-year contract last week and will hit the practice field for the first time Thursday morning at training camp.
Though the exact dollar figures haven’t been disclosed, there’s little doubt the Saints rewarded their sneaky potent pass-catching threat with a contract he couldn’t refuse.
“Personally, I want to get back on the field and do whatever I can to help this team win,” Moore said. “Offensively, I think the sky’s the limit. We have a bunch of guys returning and a bunch of guys coming in and hopefully we can get it together and be at the top of the league.”
It’s been a long, winding journey for Moore to reach this point. He began his Saints career on the practice squad under then-coach Jim Haslett as an undrafted rookie free agent. Moore impressed Sean Payton enough to remain on the practice squad in 2006 and saw some time on the 53-man roster. Moore is one of the less than handful of holdovers from the Haslett era still on the roster.
Moore worked his way into the receiving rotation in 2007 with 32 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns. The 5-foot-9, 190-pound receiver made his mark in 2008 where he became Brees’ go-to target - leading the team in receiving yards (908) and receiving TDs (10).
He missed most of the 2009 season with a shoulder injury he suffered in the weight room before the season and only compiled 14 catches during the regular season. But he, again, proved his value with his acrobatic catch on a two-point conversion in Super Bowl XLIV to help the Saints take home the title.
Moore returned in 2010 revitalized as he caught 66 passes for 763 yards and a team-high eight receiving TDs. So the word was out in free agency that Moore was a hot commodity.
The Saints targeted Moore as a priority during the offseason. So much so that the team nailed down a deal with Moore as one of its first moves once free agency opened.
Despite reaching a deal with what will likely be the most lucrative contract of his NFL career, Moore isn’t ready to rest on his laurels.
“I feel good, but the work isn’t over for me,” Moore said. “It’s not like I got to this point and I’m going to stop doing what I do. I love what I do. I love working hard and I love proving I’m the player that I am each and every Sunday. It’s not over for me, so I’m going to keep going and hope for more good news to come.”
And Brees said he couldn’t be more thrilled to have Moore’s trusted hands back in New Orleans.
“For me, I am very tight with our receiving corps, but especially Lance,” Brees said. “When I first got here in ‘06, Lance was on the practice squad. I have watched this guy grow and develop and become one of the better receivers in the league. And certainly the contributions he has made to our team here over the last few years, especially, have been remarkable.
“So I know what a big part of this offense he is and really just what a highly respected guy he is in the locker room. The road that he has traveled to get to where he is at, guys like that deserve the best, they deserve to get compensated, and they deserve good things to happen to them. I am glad to see that happen to him.”
Payton on Wednesday announced several changes to the upcoming camp schedule, including the moving of Thursday’s practice to the indoor facility. Because of space limitations, it will be closed to the public. ? Payton also flip-flopped the Sunday-Monday schedule for this week, switching Sunday’s scheduled off day for Monday’s practice. That means the Saints will practice 8:50-11:30 a.m. Sunday, a workout that’s open to the public, and have off Monday. ? Payton did add a bonus practice for fans on Thursday, Aug. 11 from 8:50-11:30 a.m. The Saints were supposed to have meetings only that day. ? DE Cameron Jordan, the Saints’ top draft pick, practiced for the first time Wednesday. He saw time at both end and tackle, and anticipates playing both spots this season. ... The Saints signed two former NFL first-round draft picks - tackles Alex Barron and George Foster. Payton wants to take a look at both players for depth purposes. ... The Saints waived undrafted free agent kicker Jacob Rogers. ? Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on the signing of DT Aubrayo Franklin: “(Niners linebacker) Patrick Willis is crying in his milk because we got Aubrayo Franklin.”