Moore is less…
In a move with possible ripple effects on the Bears, the Miami Dolphins delivered a pre-emptive strike in advance of Saturday’s start to the opening of the negotiating period by signing backup quarterback Matt Moore to a two-year extension worth $4 million per season, according to NFL.com.
Moore has been on the Bears’ watch list for a No. 2 in the past, but he is now not only off the market, but is off it at a price that raised some eyebrows for teams, like the Bears, looking for a veteran backup.
The Bears signed Jason Campbell last offseason for one year at $3.5 million, a figure that right now would consume early all of the Bears’ available salary cap space. Cuts and contract restructurings are expected to create additional space, but the Bears are very unlikely to then use that space on a backup to Jay Cutler.
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The odd man out in Miami now is David Garrard, 35, who missed last season after surgery for a herniated disk. Assuming satisfactory health, Garrard was in Jacksonville for 2009-10 when Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator.
Moore doesn’t appear to be the only No. 2 quarterback smiling right now. Chase Daniel, Drew Brees’ backup in New Orleans, tweeted Friday, “Cant wait! RT @ProFootballTalk: Get ready to stay up late, because free agency essentially begins at midnight” (@ChaseDaniel).
Moore’s $4 million-per ticket probably has something to do with Daniel’s eagerness. And with Moore off the market, Daniel becomes watch-worthy, with his Saints time overlapping that of Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, former New Orleans offensive line coach.
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The unknown with him is how Kromer views Daniel, who came to the Saints in 2009 after a stop in Washington. The Bears have no one behind Cutler, who is going into the final year of his contract. And they sent their third-round draft choice to Miami in the Brandon Marshall trade.
Using a mid-round pick to get a promising rookie in the pipeline may depend heavily on getting perhaps two needs addressed in free agency and then another two in rounds 1-2 in the draft.
The challenge of free agency is sometimes timing. Teams may have one need substantially above another, but market conditions – supply, demand, quality – not infrequently dictate that you adopt a “best available” strategy and strike based on opportunity, not strictly on your needs priority.
Meaning: The Bears are expected to pursue offensive-line help aggressively, as GM Phil Emery did last offseason. But at least one NFL expert sees a possible opportunity at a need other than the consensus No. 1 for the Bears.
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ESPN analyst Bill Polian, who built championship teams in Buffalo (four-time AFC winners) and Indianapolis, indicated at least one strong free agent at a different Bears need position.
“[In San Francisco tight end] Delanie Walker, you have a really, really interesting guy,” Polian said last week. Age (28) is a bit of a concern… but he's very, very versatile.”
Nicknamed “The Swiss Army knife” for that versatility in the 49ers West Coast offense (a version of which the Bears will operate under Marc Trestman), “he can play fullback, he can play tight end. He can play in the slot. He's very productive, and he's a tough guy. He's a really good blocker and a willing blocker. So I think he'll get some activity.”
Whether that activity involves Chicago is also watch-worthy. Walker is not in the ideal size category (6 feet, 242) and is out of the Evan Rodriguez mold but has 4.4 speed and has returned a kickoff 101 yards for the 49ers.