After a slow morning in the NFC West, things picked up with authority this afternoon. Former third-round draft selection Jerome Murphy of the St. Louis Rams was released, wide receiver Greg Salas was traded the the Patriots and Kellen Winslow Jr. was dropped in favor of Evan Moore.
Obviously, the Winslow news proved to be the largest as many figured he would play a featured role in the Seahawks offense this upcoming season. The Seahawks acquired the Pro Bowl tight end from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers back in May for a conditional late-round pick.
So, what ultimately led to his release and does Moore offer more upside than Winslow?
It was clear from the get-go that his release wasn't performance based, and we haven't heard of any attitude problems during training camp. Sure, he doesn't practice every day due to his bad knees, but as he proved this preseason he still is a weapon in the passing game.
Come to find out, it was a financial decision that eventually led to his release. Winslow was scheduled to make $3.3 million in 2012, $4.5 million in 2013 and $5.5 million in 2014, the last year of the deal. Those figures were higher than Seattle wanted to pay for a guy who is a not the same player as he was in 2007.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times first reported that the Seahawks had the intentions of keeping Winslow if he would have agreed to lessen the load financially:
My question is this, why didn't they explore this avenue months ago when they traded for him? If Seattle wanted to cut his pay all along they shouldn't have waited so long. He probably would have been more receptive of the idea back in May when his stock was hurting.
Before Winslow's release Seattle was looking at a cap hit of $11.35 million, a pretty high number for two average tight ends.
Moore won't carry such a high cap number and should prove to offer Seattle more bang for their buck. If you're not familiar with the former Stanford Cardinal, I will give you a rundown.
At Standford he played wide receiver and was the teammate of Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin. When he signed with the Packers in 2008 they converted him to tight end. Injuries throughout college and early on in his pro career slowed his development.
During his stint with the Packers he saw limited action as he was placed on injured reserve before the regular season even started. Green Bay eventually gave up on him as they labeled him injury prone considering he broke his hand before the start of the 2009 season.
Cleveland came a knocking on November 9, 2009 and signed him to their practice squad. In less than a month Moore was promoted to their active roster and made his debut against the San Diego Chargers on December 5.
He proved to make an immediate impact for the Browns. In his debut he caught six balls for 80 yards. The clip above is his first career catch; it went for a 16-yard gain.
The 2011 season was his most productive as an NFL player. He caught 34 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns. Keep in mind he wasn't their full-time tight end; Ben Watson handled those duties for Cleveland last year.
He is a definite threat in the passing game when healthy. According to Pro Football Focus, Moore averages 1.77 yards every route he runs, which is good enough for 10th best over the last three years. In comparison, he's not too far behind Aaron Hernandez, who averages 1.85 yards per route run.
At half the price there's no question he can provide just as much statistically as Winslow. Look for the Seahawks to use him in two-tight-end sets with Zach Miller. He can't block worth a lick, but if you get him running down the seam against a linebacker he will win that matchup all day long.