* Denarius Moore has found a change of scenery.*
Monday's signing of wide receiver Denarius Moore looks to be relegated to the agate type of NFL offseason transactions. But it's significant in the sense it reflects the Bengals' desire to get faster and deeper at wide receiver as the 2015 season emerges from the rubble of Indianapolis.
It will be recalled that's where the Bengals' season ended last year in the Wild Card Game when injuries made their slot receiver, Mohamed Sanu, their No. 1 wide receiver and transplanted running back Rex Burkhead ended up as their leading wide receiver with 34 yards in his 11th NFL game.
"He can run. He has ability," said Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson of Moore. "He can get a fresh start here and we're glad to have him. You just never know. You look at what happened last year and we don't want that to happen again."
Jackson should know. As head coach of the Raiders in Moore's rookie season of 2011, he watched him average 18.8 yards per catch on his 33 catches after they took him in the fifth round out of Tennessee. When Jackson left after that season, Moore had a career-high 51 catches, 761 yards, and six touchdowns in 2012 before his numbers began to slide, ending with just 12 catches this past season.
And Moore is loving this re-union with Jackson.
"I'm actually pretty excited about it. I felt like he was a guy that understood me and he knew how to spread the ball throughout the offense," said Moore after signing what is believed to be a one-year minimum deal. "It just wasn't me. He knew how to not only get the players involved, but the fans involved. Whether it was a trick play or a big gain or something like that, he did something for the situation. I felt like I was in a zone working in his offense and I could actually get momentum going."
Jackson liked his speed and he's anxious to see if it is the 4.5 seconds at his NFL scouting combine or the 4.39 of his pro day. Somewhere in between would be nice as the Bengals look to stockpile more receivers through the draft.
"Of course I am," said Moore, when asked if he is still fast. "And I'm ready to show it."
He didn't have much of a chance to show much last season. According to profootballfocus.com, he had just 25 targets on 237 snaps.
"I was in a rocky situation," Moore said. "Somewhere along the way I let some people mess with my confidence and I lost some. Now I'm here with a new team and I'm ready to start."
Moore has been hearing what Jackson has been saying. They're looking to add depth at receiver so they aren't playing with so little at the end of the year if injuries hit them again. Three of their top four wide receivers were sidelined in Indy but all are expected to be back in full fettle when A.J. Green (concussion), Marvin Jones (ankle) and James Wright (knee) report April 20 for off-season workouts.
And by May 1, the Bengals are expected to take a speed receiver in the early rounds of the draft. That would leave them with the rookie, Green, Jones, Sanu and Wright as their top five. So Moore would be battling with the likes of Brandon Tate and Cobi Hamilton for that last spot. And until someone other than Tate proves he can return punts and kicks with cornerback Adam Jones, Tate has a leg up on the job.
With the Moore signing giving them 68 players, the Bengals are looking at adding two more veterans, nine draft picks, and 11 college free agents, or some variations of those groups adding up to the maximum roster of 90.
The Bengals are hoping to re-sign one of their special teams captains, running back Cedric Peerman, and they are talking to veteran tight ends in search of a blocker. Cardinals tight end Rob Housler doesn't have that rep, but the Bengals, who could use an experienced pass catcher to back up Tyler Eifert as he returns from injured reserve, are talking to him. And head coach Marvin Lewis has said Jermaine Gresham remains an option as he recovers from surgery. The Bengals made an early foray in free agency, but couldn't find a financial or physical fit.
Drafting a tight end early appears to be a very real option and if they want a blocker they'd probably have to get him with one of their four picks in the first three rounds.
"I'm confident we'll get guys," Jackson said. "People have said we haven't addressed it, but we have. Sometimes plans don't work out the way you want. But we as an organization are working at it and we'll get it done."