The Dolphins re-signed Matt Moore this offseason to a two-year deal that includes $2.25 million in guarantees. Although a virtual lock to make the final roster this year, Miami should consider moving on from their veteran backup following the 2016 season.
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Matt Moore is the longest tenured Dolphins quarterback on the active roster. The team signed Moore back in 2011 and despite playing the majority of games that year in place of former Dolphin Chad Henne, Moore has spent the majority of his time as Miami’s primary backup. Moore played 13 games in 2011, but has appeared in just six games total since.
It was widely assumed that once the Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill to be their quarterback of the future that Matt Moore’s days in Miami would be numbered. That has not been the case, however, and Moore is now entering his sixth season with the team. Moore was a free agent entering this year, but eventually both sides agreed to terms to bring back the 32 year-old on a two-year deal worth $3.55 million.
Moore has been somewhat of a fan favorite among Dolphins fans over the years, pointing to the success that he had in his first year with the team. The Dolphins finished the 2011 season with a 6-10 record, which is nothing to cheer about, but finished the season strong after an 0-7 start. Moore first appeared in week 4 and started every game from then on after Henne went down with a dislocated shoulder that ended his season.
Many Dolphins fans believed that Moore could be Miami’s QB going forward, but the front office liked Tannehill enough to take him with their first round selection. They also brought in former Jacksonville Jaguars QB David Garrard. Garrard was the projected starter going into 2012, but he was injured that August and cut from the team a month later. Tannehill then won the starting job over Moore and that’s where we’ve been ever since.
Despite only six appearances since 2012, many still believe that Moore should be the starting quarterback. The truth is, however, that Moore’s game has deteriorated over time while Tannehill has improved every year, even if not at a pace we would all like. At this point, it would be more beneficial for Miami to part ways with their veteran backup and give the opportunity to a younger QB that could come in and compete.
Since being drafted, Tannehill hasn’t really had competition outside of his rookie season. Even though it’s not likely anyone would come in and take the job from Tannehill, he could benefit greatly having someone around pushing him to be better. Throughout his career, Moore has had a reputation of someone who didn’t perform very well in practice, but knew how to get it going when it counted. He’s had limited opportunities to showcase his stuff the past few seasons, but hasn’t impressed when given the chance.
While Moore has been a viable backup for Tannehill throughout this time, Miami should take a closer look at Zac Dysert and Brandon Doughty to be the team’s primary backup. Doughty is the first QB that Miami has drafted since Tannehill. He looked pretty decent in Miami’s first preseason game against the Giants but struggled against the Cowboys and Falcons, respectively. He’s better equipped for the practice squad at this time.
Dysert, on the other hand, has been very impressive this preseason with an increase in reps. Moore suffered a concussion in the game against Dallas after a late hit, and Dysert has seen this as his opportunity to move up the depth chart. He was slated ahead of Doughty against the Falcons and finished the game going 6-7 for 57 yards with a 100.6 QBR. He also ran the ball four times for a total of 18 yards. Although just preseason, it was a nice overall performance by the youngster.
No matter what happens in the foreseeable future, Moore is a virtual lock to make the final roster this season. The Dolphins have invested too much money in guarantees to simply drop him now. I asked NFL Film Study’s Ian Wharton if there was any possibility of Miami moving on from Moore this season, which he responded with an emphatic no:
With signing bonuses added into the equation, the guaranteed numbers are actually about $2.75 million. So those fuming at the mere thought of letting Moore go don’t need to worry about that happening this year. Even letting go of Moore next season could prove difficult with guarantees still coming his way, but the Dolphins may want to eat their losses if they like what they see out of their other backups more or if another player peaks their interest.
Critics of the idea may point to the fact that there’s a chance that Tannehill won’t be here next season either. The Dolphins have a team option that allows them to cut Tannehill after this season if they’re not happy with their former first round pick. Surely, the Dolphins don’t want a similar quarterback scenario like the one in Denver, and unlike the defending Super Bowl champions, they don’t have the defense that can bail them out like the Broncos do. However, I find it very unlikely that the Dolphins move on from Tannehill after this season, regardless of how critics feel about him.
Adam Gase has the reputation as the ‘Quarterback Whisperer’ around the league. Gase had a few head coaching possibilities this offseason, but in the end decided on Miami. I don’t think that Gase would have chosen Miami if he didn’t see something in Tannehill. I believe that Tannehill will have a breakout performance this year under the new regime. If Tannehill does regress, however, chances are that Miami will draft another quarterback next year with a high pick. Tannehill knows this is his last shot.
If Tannehill does struggle to start the season and Gase elects to bench him, he’d be wise to start Dysert instead of Moore. Let’s face it, if either player is called upon to replace Tannehill at any moment for performance purposes, then the season is essentially done already and the Dolphins will continue their long, industrious rebuilding mode. Inserting Dysert and helping him to develop at the NFL level would be more efficient than bringing in Moore to simply finish out the season.
Matt Moore is still a highly respected backup and the Dolphins have enjoyed his tenure for the past six seasons. Him and Tannehill are actually very close and he has been a great mentor for Ryan, but it’s time for Miami to look at other options. An ideal situation, but unlikely, would be for Miami to try and trade Moore.
Moore visited the Cowboys earlier this offseason before signing with the Dolphins. The Cowboys are now in search of a backup QB with Tony Romo on the shelf. They have already declared Dak Prescott the starter while Romo is out, but maybe they like the idea of adding the veteran Moore.
Whatever the Dolphins decide to do about Moore in the future, there’s a good chance we won’t see him under center for Miami the rest of the season. The Dolphins final preseason game is this Thursday against Tennessee. While, Moore returned to practice this week from his concussion, it’s been announced he will not play. Tannehill will be held out to rest as well, leaving Dysert and Doughty to play about a half each.