ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Lance Moore showed up with the Detroit Lions earlier this month, a veteran receiver looking for another chance after a poor season. In 18 months, he went from being a player would had been on one team his whole career to one on his third in three seasons.
Moore, once a staple in a productive New Orleans offense, became a late-career traveler from the Saints to the Steelers and now, Detroit.
When the Saints cut Moore last March, Detroit was one of the places he deemed desirable. He had familiarity with Joe Lombardi's offense. Making the transition from the Saints to the Lions would be easier than most because of the similarities between the two offenses.
Money and interest kept the Lions and Moore from connecting last season. Detroit signed Golden Tate in the first 24 hours of 2014 free agency to a five-year, $31 million deal, so Moore knew the Lions were not going to pay another receiver mid-to-high level money. Coming off a successful nine years in New Orleans, Moore wanted to find a place where he commanded more cash.
He signed with Pittsburgh instead. It didn’t work.
“If I could have gone back and had the same opportunity to come here that I did in Pittsburgh, maybe things would have been different,” Moore said. “But I don’t feel like I made the wrong decision. I just feel like I made a decision and lived with it and it didn’t work out and thankfully enough, I got another opportunity.”
He never really connected on the field with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh employed younger players who started to stand out. Moore's disappointing 14-catch, 198-yard season ended with with wideout being a healthy inactive for the Steelers’ playoff game against Baltimore, the first time Moore remembers being a healthy scratch in his career.
Pittsburgh lost. The next day, before he had exit meetings with his offensive coordinator and position coach, but not head coach Mike Tomlin, Moore wanted out. Through his agent, Moore eventually asked out of his contract.
“I had to wait for the proper time to do it,” Moore said. “I figured the day after a playoff loss wasn’t the right time to do it.”
Pittsburgh cut Moore in March, sending him to the uncertain mass of free agency in a crowded wide receiver class. At age 31 -- he turns 32 in August -- it was a somewhat risky maneuver considering teams like to trend younger with skill position players. But Moore had confidence he would eventually find a new home, whether that was immediately, in May, in training camp or even during the season.
“I knew that in my mind and my body that I was physically capable,” Moore said. “I knew I didn’t really control the other part.”
During the offseason, he worked out with Dan Orlovsky, one of Detroit’s reserve quarterbacks, in Tampa. He said he believes Orlovsky provided a positive recommendation for Moore. Then there is the familiarity with Lombardi and the offense, something that attracted Moore to Detroit a season ago.
Having gone through a week of organized team activities (OTAs) now, Moore said the major difference for him is what formations and some plays are called. Those are different from New Orleans. Otherwise, everything else is the same.
“It’s been a little bit easier of an adjustment for me because I already understand the offense,” Moore said. “I know the concepts. I know where they are supposed to be and when they are supposed to be there so for me coming here, I can’t necessarily say it’s a plug him in and play type of situation but it’s close to it.”
So far, he’s fit in well. In his first OTA open to the media, he had several nice catches and looked to still have some speed. Considering the Lions' need a slot receiver, if he can continue playing consistently, he could be the No. 3 receiver Detroit has been searching for.
Considering where Moore was six months ago, he’ll take whatever role he can find.
“At this point in the game, I just want to play,” Moore said. “I’m not really exactly looking for the biggest pay day. I’m looking for an opportunity to go in and play and help the team win.
“Detroit made sense for me for numerous reasons.”