ORLANDO, Fla. — The Steelers’ pitch to former Saints wide receiver Lance Moore during a recent free agent visit was simple, as Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin recalls.
The team walked Moore past a case displaying the Steelers’ six Super Bowl trophies and said they would like his help in placing a seventh in there.
“We just told him the truth, and that’s what we tell all free agents: who we are, how we do business, how we potentially see them fitting,” Tomlin — who’s responsible for the newest of those trophies — said Monday at a meeting with the media covering the annual NFL owners meeting at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes hotel. “I think it fell in line with some of the things that he’s interested in doing as a professional.”
About the strategic purpose of the case, Tomlin remarked, “That’s a strong selling point every day. I walk past (the trophies) every day when I come to work and appropriately so. I think it provides clarity for us when it comes to what it is we’re doing, and it’s a motivator.”
Moore agreed in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday morning when discussing the immediate impression the case left on him before accepting a two-year deal that USA Today’s Tom Pelissero reported was worth up to $3 million and included a $645,000 signing bonus. Moore officially signed the contract on Tuesday.
“At this point in my career, that’s why I’m here — I want to win,” he told his hosts, Ross Tucker and Amani Toomer. “I don’t want to be somewhere just collecting a check.”
Tomlin on Tuesday talked about the aspects of Moore’s game that attracted the Steelers to him, especially after their former receiver Emmanuel Sanders departed to Denver and Jericho Cotchery — whom Pittsburgh targeted in free agency — signed a deal with Carolina.
The Steelers coach called Moore “a savvy veteran who’s capable of winning above the neck,” someone who “can create space at breakpoints.”
“He’s developed a significant rapport with a guy like (Saints quarterback) Drew Brees over the years, and hopefully he’ll be able to do the same” with Steelers signal-caller Ben Roethlisberger, Tomlin said.
That also echoed comments Moore made a day earlier, when he said he didn’t much mind going from one quarterback who was a Super Bowl MVP (Brees, at the end of 2009) to another who had a hand in a pair of Lombardi trophies (Roethlisberger, at the conclusion of 2005 and 2008).
“They’re both … championship quarterbacks,” said Moore, who caught a key two-point conversion pass in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV, New Orleans’ lone NFL title. “That’s the thing I’m most excited about: To go from one Super Bowl MVP to another Super Bowl-winning quarterback and have the opportunity to win again.”
The 5-foot-9 Moore joined the Saints in 2005 and went on to catch the fourth-most passes (346), fifth-most touchdowns (38) and sixth-most yards (4,281) in franchise history.
However, Moore was due $3.8 million in salary and bonuses for 2014, and his being cut would clear $2.5 million in cap space, of which there wasn’t a whole lot as the beginning of the free agency signing period on March 11 neared. It also didn’t help his cause that Stills — a rookie last year who’s owed about $543,600 in salary and bonuses for 2014 — had 641 yards and five touchdowns on 32 catches in the regular season while Moore had 457 yards and two TDs on 37 grabs.
The Saints released Moore on March 7. They are scheduled to visit the Steelers in 2014.