4-30-04, 4:25 p.m.
4-30-04, 6:15 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals ended Draft Week the way they began it.
With a move.
They added to their competition for the third quarterback job Friday when they claimed former Falcons quarterback Kurt Kittner on waivers. He joins seventh-rounder Casey Bramlet out of Wyoming and free agent Scott Rislov from San Jose State in the derby to see who goes behind No. 1 Carson Palmer and backup Jon Kitna.
They also confirmed that former Colts and Redskins center Larry Moore has agreed to a three-year deal. That caps a whirlwind week that began when the
Bengals traded down two spots in the first round of the NFL Draft Saturday to pick up their 11th and final draft choice. Also this week, they added 18 college free agents to the 11 draft picks and expect them next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for a rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Bengals admired the 6-2, 221-pound Kittner's poise and smarts leading up to the 2002 Draft and debated taking him on the second day of the draft. Atlanta took him in the fifth round, but they released him after this draft when they selected Virginia quarterback Matt Schaub in the third round.
Ironically, the Falcons had mentioned Kitna as a possible addition to a quarterback staff headed up by Mike Vick and Ty Detmer if the Bengals released him. Instead, the Bengals extended Kitna's contract, and Atlanta made calls on Trent Dilfer as well as Drew Brees, but the Chargers supposedly wouldn't pull the trigger on Brees. Now the Falcons look content to go into the season with Detmer and Schaub.
Kittner spent his rookie season in a reserve role and did not play. Last year he played in seven games with four starts, and completed 44 of 114 passes for 391 yards, two touchdowns, and six interceptions.
After Vick broke his ankle last preseason, Doug Johnson started the first seven games and went 1-6. Then Kittner started the next four, went, 1-3, and the Falcons turned to Johnson for one more game before Vick returned for the last month.
After hearing last Friday that the Redskins had released a veteran who had started 72 games, the Bengals made immediate contact with Moore, brought him in for a visit Monday, and agreed to a three-year deal with him Thursday after not selecting a center to back up Rich Braham. Moore now becomes their lone reserve center or guard with a NFL start after becoming a salary cap casualty in Washington.
The 6-2, 300-pound Moore turns 29 in June and with Braham turning 34 in November and working on a one-year deal, it could turn into something Moore in 2005 and 2006.
"I'm going to do whatever I can to start, but if the team thinks it helps them best for me to back up, then I'll back up," Moore said Thursday night.
If it sounds like Moore is Lewis' kind of unselfish player, he is. He is also the 15th player Lewis has brought in with playoff experience. As a starter for the Colts, Moore helped Indianapolis to the playoffs twice before becoming the Redskins' starting center in 2002.
"That's one of the big reasons why I came," Moore said. "This team is obviously close. Only one game away last year if you look at it. If they beat Cleveland and Baltimore lost. . ."
Moore started 16 games in '02 and the first eight of last season before he went on injured reserve with a severely sprained foot. But he's back and running, and looking forward to re-joining Lewis, the Redskins defensive coordinator in '02.
"I wanted to join Marvin and what I think is a great coaching staff," Moore said. "When Marvin left last year, I did follow them a little bit and when they put that winning streak together, it was 'Wow, they might really make it.' It was the kind of thing where there were people pulling for them."
Moore and Braham have a lot in common. Both have made the switch from guard to center, with Moore making the move heading into his last year in Indianapolis in 2001. Both are considered smart guys who can help communicate with the rest of the line. Like Braham, who has played through countless injuries, Moore's career has been marked by tenacity. He came out of Brigham Young as an undrafted guard for Seattle in 1997, but after getting cut by the Seahawks and the Redskins, Moore hooked on with the Colts the next year.
"The biggest thing I learned (at center) was how to recognize defenses in the middle," Moore said. "After awhile, it slowed down enough in there. I feel like I can play both. Whatever they need me to do."
The Bengals are looking at a huge roster scrum on the offensive line. The five starters make it as well as Moore, and fourth-rounder Stacy Andrews figures to make it because the 6-5, 325-pounder won't clear waivers in order for the Bengals to put him on the practice squad.
That could leave just three spots among last year's seventh-rounder, Scott Kooistra, and veterans, Thatcher Szalay, Alex Sulfsted, Victor Leyva, Mike Mabry, and rookie tackles Pete Lougheed, Belton Johnson and Justin Sands, as well as some college free agents.
Moore reportedly received $200,000 to sign, and minimum salaries that average out to $1.1 million per year with play-time incentives.