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A look at FA Guard Brandon Moore, who is visiting Cowboys

I admit I knew nothing about this guy prior to hearing about his impending visit with the Cowboys (although this report has since been disputed). Maybe partly because I just assumed we wouldn't have the money to sign a significant FA upgrade on the oline, and had done our FA guard action last season, so I wasn't really paying attention to who was out there.

But in an off-season of great relative inactivity, when I hear about our team being interested in a player who would be more than just a depth/insurance signing, I want to find out more. Since it doesn't seem like much has been posted about him here yet, I figured I'll share what I find, and stimulate some discussion.

OCC summed up the rumor of his visit (and he has since left Miami without a contract):

Brandon Moore, RG, Jets: The 10-year veteran guard and one-time Pro Bowler is apparently drawing interest from the Dolphins, Lions and Cowboys, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York. The 32-year old Moore has started 141 consecutive games for the Jets, and graded out as the fourth best guard on PFF last year, with a cumulative grade of +21.3, which compares favorably to Bernadeau's -4.0. Moore, who plays with the number 65, is perhaps best known for this one scene from last year:

Stillbetterthancassel

via cdn3.sbnation.com

Of course, Moore is most notorious for being on the receiving end of the Mark Sanchez butt-fumble, the most mocked play of the last season. (By the way, we did have our own butt-fumble last year, much less notorious but very similar. In our case, it was Felix Jones running into the behind of Cook during the second Giants game.)

But let's see what else we can find out about him...

Breaking down PFF stats by game (subscription), we see that Moore had a "green" (or better than +1.0) grade for all of the last nine games of the season. In the first seven games, he only had two poor "red" graded games (Week 4 vs SF -1.3, and week 7 vs NE -2.9), and he graded out +3.1 or better in three of the last four games of the season. So that is definitely a positive trend, in terms of him playing very well consistently at the end of last season.

And he's been doing it well for a long time; a report on his visit to Detroit also notes in regards to PFF that, "In the five years they've been evaluating players, he has never ranked lower than fifth among right guards." And that his game starting streak is "the third-longest active streak in the NFL, and tops among offensive lineman."

It's also worth noting the PFF pass/run blocking breakdown. Moore graded out with a cumulative +5.6 in pass blocking, which was 18th among Gs, and +12.8 in run blocking, which was 5th among Gs. So he may excel especially as a run blocker, and could provide much needed help for our ground game, but he's well balanced and decent in protection as well.

Scouts Inc. (via ESPN Insider) rates Moore as #1 FA Guard, with a grade of 81 (compared to Levitre and Colon at 78):

Moore has been a consistent, durable interior lineman throughout his career. He has average size, good athleticism and functional strength. He is an excellent technician who wins with initial quickness and effort to finish blocks. He uses active hands to stay connected with combination blocks and on the second level. Moore stabilized the Jets' offensive line with great effort and leadership.

"Great effort and leadership." ProFootballTalk notes that he was also "a team captain and a recipient of the Jets' Ed Block Courage Award." Sounds like a Garrett RKG for sure.

A post on SBN sister-site BuffaloRumblings.com prior to free agency gives a little more background on Moore's career path:

As an undrafted free agent defensive tackle in 2002, the 6'2", 305-pound Moore was switched to guard by then-head coach Herman Edwards. Moore therefore spent the first four years of his career being coached by Doug Marrone, then the Jets' offensive line coach, and by the time Marrone left for the New Orleans Saints in 2006, Moore had emerged as a full-time starter. Moore has started all 16 games in eight consecutive seasons for the Jets.

Not coincidentally, Bill Callahan was his oline coach for the subsequent years before coming to Dallas, and surely has a good connection with Moore, and should be able to assess as well as any how much he has left in the tank. (h/t to lonewolf in the comments, since I forgot to mention that initially.)

The Bills site also said that despite his age, Moore "could easily be viewed as an upgrade" over Levitre, even though Levitre was considered by many as free agency's top guard.

Here's a video feature from BR on Moore, from prior to the 2012 season.

And here's an audio of Moore talking about life as a free agent. He says this about what he's looking for now:

I played a little while now, and I've been in some big games, played in a lot of big games, and right in now it's the stage in my career I'm looking to really be with a team that's on the cusp of a championship, a team that's really a piece here and a piece there, that's really vying for a championship.

Some might say the Cowboys don't exactly fit that description, but you could certainly argue that a quality RG is one of the major pieces missing to get us over the hump, and I think we're closer and a more complete team than the Dolphins or Lions. So if his priority is to be with the team that has the best shot at a championship, and his choices are between those three, I could see how we might have an advantage in landing him, if we wanted to, especially given the Callahan connection.

The biggest question about Moore has to be his age. Is it ever wise to sign a 32-old FA player as a starter?

I guess it depends on how you look at it.

The first question is whether he can still play, and would actually improve the team. Despite his age, the PFF stats say that he's still playing at a high level (certainly much better than Bernie played), and his impressive streak of games started indicates a durability that should relieve some concerns about his age as well.

If you assume that he can play at a level that is a significant upgrade over Bernadeau, then the question is: is he a "bridge" or a "progress stopper"?

I would like to think he could make the line better this season, and give us maximum flexibility in the draft, while giving more time to the likes of Leary, Kowalski and yes even Arkin to develop into his replacement in a year or two.

The other question would of course be money. As the Bill's site noted, Moore made roughly $4.5 million in each of the past two seasons. Given the generally soft market for free agents, combined with his age, I would think he wouldn't get more than a 2-3 year offer, for less than he made for the Jets. I'm no expert on these contracts, but I think with the restructuring of Romo and a long-term deal for Spencer, we could certainly clear up enough cap space to make a competitive offer for Moore, while still having room pick up an depth/insurance safety, and sign our rookies (including $2M in cap room after June 1 from Spears).

So what do you think?

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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