NFL

Saints release WR Moore; RB Sproles could be next

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The Canadian Press
3/8/2014 8:36:24 PM
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NEW ORLEANS - The New Orleans Saints released veteran receiver Lance Moore on Friday.

Before the move was announced, Moore all but confirmed it with a note on Twitter, writing, "Thank you New Orleans for an amazing nine years. Who Dat Nation, the best on earth!!!"

Cutting Moore, who was due $3.1 million in base salary next season, marked the latest of several cost-cutting moves by the Saints as they seek to create space under the NFL's salary cap to work out a long-term extension with star tight end Jimmy Graham. In the past month, the Saints have cut defensive end Will Smith, safety Roman Harper and cornerback Jabari Greer, who were all starters on New Orleans' 2009 Super Bowl team. In addition, the Saints have said they would not bring back free agent linebacker Jonathan Vilma, a former defensive captain who has been hampered by knee injuries in recent seasons.

"Just like some of the decisions we made on the defensive side of the ball a few weeks ago, this move today is just as difficult," general manager Mickey Loomis said. "Lance was very important to our productivity on offence and our success as a team overall. ... You couldn't ask for more from Lance both on and off the field and we wish him the best of luck."

Meanwhile, there were signs of more moves to come.

Running back and return specialist Darren Sproles, due $3.4 million in base salary in 2014, wrote on Twitter: "Thank you New Orleans for your support over the past 3 years! I will always be forever grateful. #WhoDat"

The NFL did not release any formal transactions involving Sproles and the Saints did not immediately comment on the significance of Sproles' Twitter post.

Sproles joined the Saints as a free agent in 2011, setting an NFL record for total yards in a season with 2,696.

Last season, Sproles, who routinely catches passes out of the backfield, accounted for 604 yards and two touchdowns receiving to go with 220 yards and two TDs rushing. He returned 29 punts, with his longest return going for 28 yards, and ran back 12 kickoffs, none for more than 32 yards.

Moore entered the NFL with Cleveland as an undrafted free agent out of Toledo in 2005 and joined the Saints' practice squad later that season.

"Lance Moore made a significant contribution to our team's success," Saints coach Sean Payton said. "While his production on paper is obvious, it only tells half the story. Lance came to us an undrafted rookie who went to NFL Europe and spent time on our practice squad. He went on to produce outstanding results on the field for us as a result of his work ethic, reliability and commitment to get better every day. He's been one of the pillars of what we have built here as an organization."

In 2008, he was New Orleans' leading receiver with 79 catches for 928 yards and 10 touchdowns.

While he was hurt for much of the 2009 season, he returned in time to help the Saints win their only championship. He made a difficult catch and dived for the pylon on a 2-point conversion that gave New Orleans a 24-17 lead over Indianapolis in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. The Saints went on to win by two touchdowns after Tracy Porter's late interception return for a score.

Moore had his last 1,000-yard season in 2012, when he made 65 catches for 1,021 yards and six TDs.

Last season, however, Moore began to lose playing time to rookie receiver Kenny Stills and finished with 37 catches for 457 yards and two TDs, his lowest output in four seasons.

Moore was due $3.1 million in base salary in 2014, so releasing him provides New Orleans more flexibility under the salary cap as it seeks to re-sign star free-agent tight end Jimmy Graham to a long-term extension.

Lance Moore  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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