Lions special-teams maven C.J. Moore returns after offer from Patriots; Badgley makes an impression

Detroit News

Allen Park — Bill Belichick, one of, if not the greatest coach in NFL history, has always put a premium on special teams. So, when a primarily special-teams performer gets a call from the Patriots in free agency, it’s noteworthy.

Belichick’s Patriots poached one of the Detroit Lions’ top special-teamers last week, signing free-agent linebacker Chris Board. And they nearly snagged a second, hosting safety C.J. Moore for a visit and extending a contract offer, before the Lions came over the top to beat the offer with a two-year pact that included more than $3 million in guarantees.

The entire process, from being considered by New England to re-signing with Detroit, has been an overwhelming experience for Moore.

“My twin brother who plays ball in Tennessee, he mentioned, ‘See, that’s something to say, that these guys are bringing you in,'” Moore said about the Patriots’ interest. “That’s coach Bill. Special teams kinda started over there with him.’ That really meant a lot. I kinda gave myself a little pat on the shoulder for a quick second, but I just want to get back to work and bring it even higher. There’re so many more goals to reach. I’m just excited about it.

“…Getting that call from my agency, I thought it was going to be about that (Patriots offer), but then he said Detroit,” Moore said. “I was like so thankful and grateful. It freakin’ brought tears to my eyes. Just coming back home, man. This is home.”

Since Moore signed with the Lions as an undrafted rookie out of Mississippi in 2019, no one on the team has logged more special-teams snaps than Moore’s 1,078.

And although he owed it to himself to explore his value on the open market, including taking that visit to New England, Moore is thrilled the Lions made the best offer.

“Man, I just felt like myself and the culture that Coach Dan (Campbell) and (general manager) Brad (Holmes) and (owner) Ms. Sheila (Hamp) have built here, it just fits so perfectly,” Moore said. “It’s gritty. It’s not for everybody. Everybody can’t come to Detroit. You just have to be ready for something like that. I think that’s who I am. And that’s why we’re building something special here.”

Badgley ready to compete

The Lions also brought back kicker Michael Badgley over the weekend, giving him a new, one-year deal that includes $350,000 in guarantees.

Badgley performed well in a 12-game stint with the Lions after signing with the team in October, making 20 of 24 field-goal attempts. That was better than his career conversion rate of 81.7%.

“I think maybe just the way meshing with the locker room, the staff, the entire organization, just kinda meant something different to these guys,” Badgley said about his ability to quickly adjust to his new surroundings. “And having a guy like coach Campbell at the forefront makes it that much more fun. Yeah, I think being able to work with (punter) Jack (Fox) and (snapper) Scott Daly, that definitely made it a lot easier. Coming in just having fun with it and playing the way this entire team does, I think that was just making it easier.”

Badgley’s contract gives him frontrunner status on the job in 2023, but there aren’t enough guarantees in the contract to suggest he’s a lock. Two years ago, the team awarded veteran free agent Randy Bullock more than double those guarantees, but didn’t hesitate to cut him after training camp, when it was clear he wasn’t the best option.

Badgley said the Lions haven’t talked to him about competing for the job, but the veteran kicker embraces a challenger being added to the roster this offseason.

“I don’t know what they’re going to do,” Badgley said. “But, I do know I have always believed that competition brings out the best in everybody. I’ll just leave it at that.”

Long-snapping battle

Daly has handled the long snapping duties in Detroit the past two seasons, after beating out the legendary Don Muhlbach for the job in 2021. But, Daly will face some stiff competition from a veteran this offseason after the Lions reportedly agreed to terms with two-time Pro Bowler Jake McQuaide.

A 12-year veteran, McQuaide spent the majority of his career with the Rams before playing the past two seasons with the Cowboys.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers

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