NFL Free Agency: Matt Moore Is The Most Underrated Quarterback

Matt Moore of the Carolina Panthers receives the “Most Underrated” award in Sure Start News’ series on NFL free agent quarterbacks (QB).  There are numerous teams in need of help at the QB position; these articles provide depth for some of the players that will be available in the NFL’s much-anticipated  free agency period.

NFL fans are frustrated with the process of the labor negotiations, with a delayed free agency period among the chief concerns.  On June 3, the 8th District Court of Appeals strongly encouraged the NFL and its players to figure out how to divide up their $9.3 billion in annual revenue; their ruling on the players’ lawsuit challenging the lockout is due in the next few weeks.  The parties were instructed to find common-ground before then, or risk a ruling that neither party would like.  Free agency isn’t likely to begin until a new agreement is reached.

In what may come as a surprise to many fans, one hot free agent prospect will be Matt Moore.  Of the young QBs that are available through free agency or trade, Moore could be the most promising (and this list included Kevin Kolb of the Philadelphia Eagles).

In a May 23rd article by “Sure Start News” writer Darin Pike, Matt Moore was named the most underrated free agent QB in the NFL; this piece is an expansion on that article.  Several other publications have followed with stories on Moore, including the Sporting News’ May 26th article, Matt Moore Might be Best Young QB on Free-Agent Market.

Carolina Panther head coach Ron Rivera has stated Moore “can get involved in our QB situation.”  However, he isn’t currently in the mix, as the team has Cam Newton (top pick in the 2011 NFL Draft) slated for their future.  He is competing with Jimmy Clausen (Round-Two selection in the 2010 NFL Draft) and Tony Pike (2010 NFL Draft), with the latter two QBs battling for reserve QB duties.  They also have Keith Null and veteran Brian St. Pierre on their roster.

Moore played on a team lacking talent at wide receiver and tight end.  Steve Smith is a former pro bowl receiver, but he played like a shell of his former self in 2010; his reception and yardage figures were roughly half of his career averages.

Moore had his best performance of 2010 after the bye week.  Playing a home game vs. the San Francisco 49ers, he was 28-41 for 308 Yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT, with a 96.4 QB rating.  Moore was injured early two weeks later, though, and missed the remainder of the season after having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder.

Moore appeared in just six games last season.  He started five of them, but was injured early in his final game.  He was unimpressive overall in 2010, posting 10 INTs with only five TDs.

Moore showed significant promise during the 2009 season when he had decent talent around him.  In five starts, he completed 85-138 passes for 1,053 Yards, 8 TDs and 2 INTs.  His QB Rating was 98.5.  Moore replaced the injured Jake Delhomme in Week 12 and the Panthers holding a 4-7 record.  He led the team to a 4-1 finish, including victories over the Minnesota Vikings (12-4) and the New Orleans Saints (13-3).  Those two teams met in the NFC Championship game at the end of the 2009 season.

Moore’s four years in the NFL could make him an unrestricted free agent under a new bargaining agreement.  If he is a restricted free agent, the Panthers would be able to match a team’s offer sheet.  That seems doubtful, though, given the other QBs on their roster.

Carolina made an original-round tender; since he was not drafted, Moore’s new team would not have to surrender a draft pick to sign him.  This could change under the final CBA, but interested teams should be unencumbered in their efforts to sign Matt Moore.

Player Summary: Moore was an undrafted free agent that played at Oregon State University.  He has demonstrated solid athleticism for a QB, along with good arm strength.  He isn’t going to throw the ball 80 yards, but he can throw 60 yards with accuracy.  His ability to drop passes beyond defenders and to spots where only his receivers can touch them is impressive.

More important than the deep ball, Moore’s accuracy carries over to short and medium-range passes.  He has enough zip to fit throws into tight windows, and does so with a quick release.  He has shown the ability to read defenses and look off defenders, allowing room for his receivers to get open.

Moore will stand in the pocket against a pass rush and does a decent job reading blitzes.  He will extend plays and make throws right before pressure reaches him, which is aided by a compact throwing motion.  This is also where he gets into trouble, though.  When faced with pressure he can fail to step into his throws, leading to a few of his interceptions.  An improved offensive line should greatly minimize the interception issues he encountered in 2010.

Outlook: It is a bit of a gamble to turn an offense over to Matt Moore in 2011, but a team with competition at the position should be interested in his services.  The Washington Redskins will likely part ways with Donovan McNabb and will need a QB other than Rex Grossman.

The Miami Dolphins may be interested in an upgrade over Chad Henne, and the Seattle Seahawks need someone to compete with Charlie Whitehurst.  The Arizona Cardinals will also be looking for a starting QB, but will likely focus on a veteran as they give John Skelton time to develop.  At some point soon the Indianapolis Colts need to have a transition plan in place for the 35-year-old Peyton Manning.

Teams with young QBs, such as the Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals and Tennessee Titans will also be looking at options.  Suffice it to say, there are several teams that are likely to pursue Moore.

Career Passing Statistics

Year Games Comp. Attempts Pct. Yards Avg. TD INT Rating
2007 9 63 111 56.8 730 6.6 3 5 67.0
2009 7 85 138 61.6 1,053 7.6 8 2 98.5
2010 6 79 143 55.2 857 6.0 5 10 55.6
Career 22 227 392 57.9 2,640 6.7 16 17 73.9