Few if any would argue that Matt Moore has been the model backup from the moment the Dolphins drafted Ryan Tannehill.
He never made waves after losing out to the then-rookie in the team’s quarterback competition in 2012.
And he re-signed with the Dolphins before free agency even began the following spring, knowing full well that he would only start if something went terribly wrong.
Two years later, Moore again has a choice: Remain in Miami as Tannehill’s insurance policy, or sign somewhere else, where his likelihood of playing might be greater.
Moore, a free agent for a week now, hopes to return to the Dolphins, according to an associate, but only at fair market value. Translation: Don’t expect him to give the Dolphins a huge hometown discount.
Miami, with more than $16 million in cap space after last week’s dizzying moves, can afford Moore. The market for a quality veteran backup starts at $4 million a year, and given Stephen Ross’ instructions for the Dolphins to win now, the Dolphins might be inclined to give him such a contract.
Head coach Joe Philbin and general manager Dennis Hickey surely don’t want gamble their careers on a rookie project if Tannehill goes down this year.
“[The Dolphins] want to sign him,” said a league source familiar with the situation.
But Moore has generated interest from other teams in the past week ‒ not a surprise, given the lack of quality quarterbacks on the market. Moore is the best remaining available quarterback, far more attractive than the likes of Tarvaris Jackson, Michael Vick and Colt McCoy.
The Dolphins need a veteran backup. They currently have just two quarterbacks on their roster: Tannehill and little-known McLeod Bethel-Thompson, a practice-squad player in 2014.
And though Moore might want one last chance to prove he can start ‒ he was the team’s MVP after replacing Chad Henne in 2011 ‒ the game of musical chairs might have left him without a seat.
Mark Sanchez re-signed with the Eagles, who also traded for Sam Bradford. The Rams got Nick Foles in return from Philadelphia. Josh McCown joined the Browns. Brian Hoyer is a Texan. The Bills traded for Matt Cassel. And Houston shipped Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Jets.
So surveying the league, there aren’t a lot of options left if playing time is Moore’s No. 1 desire. One possibility: the Tennessee Titans, who have Zach Mettenberger and Charlie Whitehurst. But the Titans also own the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, and might select a quarterback.
A deal between the Dolphins and Moore could conceivably happen this week as the team catches its breath after a wild first week of free agency.
The organization is also still waiting to figure out what’s going to happen with tight end Charles Clay, who remains a Dolphin under the one-year transition tag.
The team wants to keep Clay and pair him with Jordan Cameron, but is stuck in limbo as Clay waits to see what he might fetch from another team. If Clay signs elsewhere, the Dolphins would have a week to either match it or let him leave without any compensation.