At this time of year, with NFL free agency just three days away, rumors swirl about team interested in certain players. Sometimes these potential targets are smokescreens, with teams purposefully leaking false information in an effort to mislead the rest of the league. In that way, they keep their real intentions close to the vest.
Yet many times, these players of interest are truly targets for said reported teams. Such is the case with the Chicago Bears and their search for an offensive guard, arguably the weakest position on the roster last season.
This year, for the first time in league history, the NFL allowed a three-day negotiating period where clubs and agents may legally begin talks before the official start of free agency (Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET). As soon as that negotiating window opened, the rumors began flying. First reported by ESPN is that the Bears are interested in guard Brandon Moore, who has played his entire 10-year career with the New York Jets.
Moore is as consistent as they come. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), he has ranked seventh or better amongst NFL offensive guards in each of the past five seasons. Last year, his overall performance graded fifth best in the league at his position. On top of his excellent play, he's also extremely durable, having started every game for the Jets since 2005.
As a run blocker, Moore (6-3, 305) can maul. PFF graded him the fifth best run blocker in the league in 2012. He was also Top 20 as a pass blocker, so there aren't many holes to his game.
The biggest concern with Moore is his age – he turns 33 in June. He has played some of his best football the last few years, so he still has plenty left in the tank, but he's not a long-term option. For the short-term though, Moore would help solidify the Bears' offensive line.
Let's look at a few plays that demonstrate his ability on the field.
Our first play comes from Week 15 last year. The Jets line up in shotgun on a third-and-long. Moore, No. 65, is in his usual right guard spot.
At the snap, Moore drops in between the rushing tackle and end. He keeps his focus on the interior rusher, throwing in his big paw to keep the defender at bay. Notice the low center of gravity, balance and awareness.
When he sees the outside rusher collapsing the pocket, Moore turns and focuses his attention to his right. He's able to get a hand on the defensive end, which gives Mark Sanchez a huge window through which to throw. Imagine what Jay Cutler could do with that much space in front of him.
Run Block I
Our second play comes from Week 10. It's a Wildcat run with Tim Tebow in the backfield. The run will be a counter left, with Moore pulling behind the line and leading the play.
As you see, Moore easily gets outside, locates the defensive end, maneuvers his body to the defender's outside shoulder and drives him inside. Tebow has all the room he needs to turn the corner. This play demonstrates Moore's agility and awareness when asked to pull down the line.
Run Block II
Our final play shows Moore's power inside. This is an offset-left formation, yet the Jets will run the ball to the weak side, behind the center and right guard.
Moore crashes down on the defensive tackle and absolutely pancakes him into the ground. It's an example of Moore's drive and explosiveness at the point of attack.
As the film shows, despite his age, Moore is playing some of the best football of his career. His presence on the inside of Chicago's offensive line would go a long way toward curbing the team's long-standing front-five issues.
The problem with Moore, beyond the fact he'll be 33 at the start of next season, is his potential price tag. He made $4 million each of the past four years and will likely be looking for that same amount going forward. The Bears are roughly $3.9 million under the salary cap, so to sign Moore they would be using up all of that cash. The club will soon make a few cuts and will try to extend or restructure a few existing deals to free up more room, yet there won't be a surplus of money to spend on the open market this year.
A player like Moore, who would vastly improve Chicago's offensive line, would eat up a lot of money. Considering his age, if the Bears are going to invest heavily in a guard, it might be better to pursue to some of the comparable free agents, guys that are younger and would bring much more return on investment.
If the Bears are able to pry Moore away from New York, he will definitely give the team what it needs in terms of push and protection (he has allowed just five sacks the past five seasons) from the right guard position. But he's a pricy Band Aid whose production could begin to slip at any time in the near future. He might be too risky and too costly to end up in the Windy City.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.