It surely seemed like all former Saints wide receiver Lance Moore was trying to do was compliment his new quarterback, the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger.
But New Orleans fans didn’t take it that way when Moore told ESPN on Tuesday that Roethlisberger had an “a lot stronger arm” than quarterback Drew Brees, from whom the receiver caught passes for eight seasons, one of which ended in a Super Bowl victory.
Numerous Saints fans decried Moore’s remark on social media, calling the receiver ungrateful and reminding him New Orleans would meet Pittsburgh in November.
The outcry prompted Moore to log onto Twitter on Wednesday afternoon and say, “Everybody down south is mad now? Never said I disliked Drew or am not thankful for my time (with) him. Wouldn’t be where I am (without) him. Chill out.”
The comments Moore made that unwittingly infuriated his old team’s supporters followed his participation in players-only passing drills at Steelers’ headquarters. Discussing his adjustment to a new quarterback, Moore in part told ESPN, “I would say that Ben has a little bit stronger of an arm (than Brees), maybe a lot stronger arm. Just from the last couple of days with him here, that’s something that kind of jumps out at me.”
Moore’s response to the subsequent uproar in New Orleans is consistent with what he’s previously said about moving from the Saints to the Steelers. In an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio in March, Moore expressed the love for the time he had in New Orleans and said he “wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
However, he also said it didn’t much bother him to go 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. New Orleans acquired Brees in 2006.
As the beginning of the free agency signing period on March 11 neared, Moore was due $3.8 million in salary and bonuses for 2014, and his being cut would clear $2.5 million in cap space.
There wasn’t a whole lot of cap space at the time, and it also hurt 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 ultimately released Moore on March 7, and he signed a two-year deal with the Steelers later that month.