Who needs franchise tags? Apparently not the Atlanta Falcons. After a lot of incorrect speculation that Pro Bowl safety William Moore would given the team’s franchise tag, it turns out that the two sides didn’t need the fail-safe to keep Moore as a part of the team. League sources are reporting that the Falcons have signed Moore to a 5-year deal.
Terms of the contract are not yet disclosed.
This is a huge signing for the Falcons, as Moore was one of the free agents that Atlanta couldn’t really afford to lose. He has developed into one of the best strong safeties in the league, and was called by former Indianapolis Colts GM Bill Polian a “top-tier free agent.”
Atlanta’s defense took a big step forward in 2012 under the direction of first year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Bringing back important players like Moore will go a long way to making what was a pretty good defense into a great one. Nolan likes to disguise coverages and creatively blitz from all parts of the field. Having safeties that are fast and know where and when help is needed is a crucial element to the success of that scheme.
In just 12 games in 2012, Moore–a fourth-year player out of Missouri–managed to rack up 75 tackles (59 solo), four interceptions, two forced fumbles, eight passes defended, and one each fumble recovery and sack.
Now that Moore is locked up, the Falcons will have to look at contracts for a few other free agents, such as LT Sam Baker and CB Brent Grimes, as well as work on a possible contract extension for QB Matt Ryan. Some of those could be limited depending on the financial terms of Moore’s contract.