INDIANAPOLIS – The overriding objective is to be on the field. Pull on the cleats and pads and be there for his teammates.
I want to be out there.
That’s what drives Kenny Moore II each and every day.
You guys already know how I feel about this city, this team, this community.
The commitment is undeniable.
But so is the situation Moore finds himself in with the Indianapolis Colts.
The team has been adamant in support of its veteran cornerback – notice we didn’t mention nickel cornerback; more on that later – even before he emerged as a defensive pillar and Pro Bowl player. In June 2019, two seasons and 31 games after claiming him off waivers from New England, the Colts signed Moore to a four-year, $33 million extension.
It was a great contract considering the team in large part was investing in what it believed he would become. It made him the NFL’s highest-paid nickel corner.
Three years later, he’s not only outgrown the label – nickel corner – but has outperformed the contract. He’s due a $6.5 million base salary in 2022 and $6.75 million in ’23 with a $500,000 roster bonus, according to overthecap.com. The extension’s $8.35 million per-year average ranks 27th among cornerbacks.
Moore has expressed his dissatisfaction to general manager Chris Ballard and took an initial stance by not fully participating in the voluntary portion of the Colts’ organized team activities (OTAs). He was at practice two weeks ago but did not participate in on-field work, and steered clear of the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center entirely last week.
Moore has been involved in the mandatory minicamp this week, but was held out of a portion of Tuesday’s on-field work and all of Wednesday for precautionary reasons.
“Just trying to take it day-by-day,’’ he said. “We all know there’s a business side to it.’’
On several occasions, Moore declined to talk specifically about his contract. He’ll leave that to his agent and the Colts.
He was asked if his decision to participate in the mandatory sessions was a sign things had been resolved with management.
“Is it resolved?’’ Moore replied with a smile. “My job is to put on the cleats and do my best to help this team win.’’
The decision not to get involved with the voluntary work was “part of the process,’’ Moore said. “This is what we all sign up for. Sooner or later every player will come to grips of everything that’s going on as far as value and all that stuff.
“At the end of the day, I want to play football.’’
But will that be the case in late July when the Colts report to Grand Park Sports Campus in Westfield for training camp? A player skipping camp is subject to a $50,000 per-day fine, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“I would love to be on the field at training camp,’’ Moore said. “With it being June right now, I’m just taking it one day at a time.
“We’ve got one day of minicamp left and offseason, take a little break, get back to training. It’s the same process every single offseason. I’m ready to get back at it.’’
And about that label.
“I don’t like the whole nickel/slot corner thing,’’ Moore said. “I’m a corner at the end of the day. You guys watch the same games we play. I’ll leave it at that.’’
Since 2018, Moore has appeared in 59 of 65 regular-season games with 56 starts. More to the point, he’s been on the field for at least 92% of the defensive snaps in three of the last four seasons, including 97% last season.
There clearly have been occasions he’s benefitted from the Colts opening a game in a three-corner alignment, but he’s also seamlessly moved outside when required. Also, Moore often has been used as a blitzer.
“Playing the nickel, you wear a lot of hats,’’ he said. “It’s a lot of things on you at the nickel position. You’re not just on the outside just covering the No. 1 receiver, which that is a tough job and tough duty to have all game.’’
Moore was a do-everything-guy in Matt Eberflus’ defense: 14 interceptions, 45 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, 20 tackles for loss and 7 sacks.
It remains to be seen how that role might change in Gus Bradley’s scheme.
“I’m still going to be a corner, still going to be a nickel, still going to have a lot of duty,’’ Moore said. “It’s not completely the same as the system we were in for four years, but everything is held to the same standard.’’
Bradley has gotten only a glimpse of Moore’s skillset but believes he’ll remain an integral part of the defense.
“Very sharp, very athletic nickel,’’ Bradley said. “To have that skillset, he can play the run, he can blitz, good in man coverage, good in zone coverage.
“To have a player like that and with those capabilities, it’s always an added bonus, especially at the nickel spot.’’
You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51.