Veteran safety and special teams ace C.J. Moore visited the New England Patriots as part of his free agency process and was offered a contract to play there in 2023, which Moore admitted was a little flattering considering Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization are well known for putting resources into being good on special teams.
"That meant a lot," Moore said of getting a call from the Patriots. "My twin brother (A.J. Moore), who played ball in Tennessee last year, he mentioned like, 'C, that's something to say that these guys are bringing you in. With Bill (Belichick), special teams kind of started over there with him.' So, that really meant a lot and I gave myself a little pat on the shoulder for a quick second."
Detroit has been Moore's second home since he signed here as a rookie in 2019. And even though he was glad New England made the offer, he said it was an easy decision on where he was playing in 2023 after his agent got the call from Detroit extending him an offer to return to the Lions.
"I'm from Mississippi but Detroit is my second home and I'm just so, so grateful and thankful for Mrs. Sheila (Hamp), Brad (Holmes) and Dan (Campbell) for the opportunity just to be back and keep this thing going," Moore said.
Moore loves the fact that, like Belichick and the Patriots, Campbell and the Lions really value special teams and make it a priority in their preparation in training camp and during the practice week in the regular season. Campbell is aggressive on special teams, and Moore loves that aspect of playing teams in Detroit.
Since Lions special teams coordinator Dave Fipp was hired in 2021, punter Jack Fox has converted three fake punt passes for first downs and Moore has rushed for first-down gains on fake punts three times. This makes Detroit six-of-seven (85.7 percent) on fake punt attempts over the last two seasons.
Moore is one of the best special teamers in the league, but he's also shown throughout his career he can step in and play defense at a high level when asked to do so. He played 100 percent of the snaps at safety in Detroit's Week 14 win over Arizona in 2021.
View photos of Detroit Lions safety C.J. Moore.
"We have a standard here," Moore said. "We do things a certain way and we're gritty. We do it the right way. We're going to compete and we're just going to hold the standard. Everyone is just going to get after it, listen and take in what Fipp has to say and just go out there and turn it loose."
The Detroit Lions finished No. 6 in Rick Gosselin's annual ranking of the 32 special teams units across the NFL this past season. Re-signing Moore, along with kicker Michael Badgley, will go a long way in helping Detroit stay atop those rankings once again in 2023.