TE Dave Moore has played in more Buccaneer games than everyone except Paul Gruber and John Lynch
Dave Moore's NFL career didn't technically begin with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; he was drafted by Miami in 1992 and played one game for the Dolphins as a rookie before heading upstate later that season.
Moore would like to see his playing career end in Tampa, however.
Like his fellow Tampa transplant and fishing aficionado, Mike Alstott, Moore may get that wish. It certainly became much more likely when he re-signed with the Buccaneers on Friday afternoon. General Manager Bruce Allen announced Moore's signing during a late-afternoon radio interview.
Unlike Alstott – as well as quarterback Brian Griese and defensive end Greg Spires, also recently re-signed – Moore actually hit the NFL's free agent market, which opened after midnight on Tuesday. And, for the second straight March, Moore was one of the first players plucked off that market by Tampa Bay.
This time, the 13th-year veteran did explore some other options before returning to the team for which he has played 161 of his 191 NFL games. In the end, it was a fairly easy decision for Moore, in large part because he and his family have grown so attached to the Bay area. He and his wife, Ann Marie, have two children, daughter Halee and son Jake, and Moore teamed with Alstott last year to open a restaurant in Clearwater named The Island Way Grill.
"This is where my kids are in school, and they're getting older now and more attached to their friends, more into their after-school activities," he said. "As they get older, it gets more difficult to uproot them. We looked into it; we explored some options with some other teams, but we felt it was best for my family and my future to come back here."
Moore originally joined the Bucs in late November of 1992, after that brief cameo with the Dolphins, who drafted him in the seventh round out of Pittsburgh. He survived several "bubble" seasons to remain on the Bucs' roster in the early and mid-'90s, in part because he had added the talent of long-snapping, then eventually developed into a starter and one of the most prolific pass-catching tight ends in franchise history.
From 1993-2001, Moore played in all but two of a possible 148 of a possible 150 Buccaneer games (including playoffs) and racked up 179 receptions for 1,774 yards and 24 touchdowns. He first broke through as a significant pass-catching threat in the Bucs' attack in 1996, contributing 27 receptions for 237 yards and three scores. From that season through 2001, Moore exhibited a nose for the end zone, scoring at least three touchdowns in each season. In fact, he has scored on 13.2% of his receptions as a Buccaneer, the highest rate for any player in team history with at least 40 catches.
In 2002, Moore was released by the Buccaneers and signed by Buffalo. In two seasons with the Bills, he played in 29 games with 11 starts and recorded 23 receptions for 223 yards and four touchdowns. He returned to Tampa last year and added three receptions for 17 yards while reassuming the long-snapping duties.
Overall, Moore ranks 13th in team history and third among tight ends with 182 receptions for 1,791 yards and 24 touchdowns. He is also one of the longest-tenured players in team annals; his 161 games played as a Buccaneer are more than every player except Paul Gruber (183) and John Lynch (164).
Moore would like to see that last number increase by at least 16. His re-signing on Friday could mean that he never wears another NFL uniform.
"I would like to end my career as a Buccaneer," Moore conceded. "This is where I grew up as an NFL player and experienced some real highs and real lows. I've gone through a lot here as a player and a person. It would be special to me to finish my career where I really got it going."