- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
His close friend and the guy he was accustomed to starting next to, Thomas DeCoud, wasn't in the team's plan for 2014. The Falcons officially released DeCoud on March 11 with two years left on his contract, saving $3 million in cap space. (DeCoud's dead money will count $600,000 against the cap after June 1 and $1.2 million against cap next league year.)
"That was my guy off the field and a heck of a player,'' Moore said of DeCoud. "In his time here, he showed me a lot basically because he's done so many great things here in the red and black.''
Moore paused for a second, then gathered his thoughts as he reflected on the criticism DeCoud absorbed going out the door.
"For his name to be torn down so badly, from what I've seen, it really hurt me as a player,'' Moore said. "I know this guy. He busted his tail every day. At some point, every dog has his day. We're going to have a bad season. And your name is all you got. You play for the name on the front, but you also have to understand the name on the back of the jersey is what you've got.''
Moore and DeCoud started together since the 2009 season and made the Pro Bowl together in 2012. DeCoud's release was mainly attributed to tackling issues as the Falcons expressed a desire to get "tougher'' moving forward. DeCoud freely admitted he needed to improve his tackling, particularly since he wasn't consistently creating turnovers to compensate.
"Absolutely we talked about it,'' Moore said. "He understood it. He said every day, 'I've got to get better. I've got to get better.' And that's another thing with DeCoud: He put the work in. He came in on Tuesdays to catch balls. During tackling technique during practice, he was the first up saying, 'Let me get an extra few reps.' People don't know that. And for that type of criticism to come up ... I just wish him the best of luck and hope he bounces back, which I know he will.''
As for Moore, he's left without a partner in the secondary as the Falcons opted not to pursue one of the top safeties in free agency. Moore called Jairus Byrd "my guy'' and talked to him a couple days before Byrd signed a six-year, $56 million deal with the Saints. Another safety Moore has talked with is friend Rafael Bush, a restricted free agent who was given a low-level $1.4 million tender by the New Orleans Saints.
The best bet for the Falcons now is to pursue safety help early in the draft, so Moore might want to be prepared to be paired with a rookie.
"I've known the same safety [DeCoud] since I got here in Atlanta, and to go into another season with a new face, it's going to be tough,'' Moore said. "I don't care what anybody says, but chemistry is very important. I really don't know the avenue the Falcons are taking -- old safety, veteran safety, young safety -- my job is to just be myself.''