FRISCO, Texas – Signing on with an NFL team is an exciting experience, regardless of where it's located. But when that team is the one you grew up watching, it takes on a higher level of meaning.
Dallas native Damontre Moore found that out for himself this week, when he signed with his hometown Dallas Cowboys.
"It's so surreal, you know. It's a lifelong dream. I think when every little kid is growing up playing little league football, they want to play for their team," Moore said on Monday. "I'm just having a surreal moment – kind of like a Victor Cruz moment – right now."
It's understandable that Moore would invoke Cruz, a New Jersey native who became a star for the New York Giants. After all, Moore was a third-round pick by New York back in 2013 and spent the first three years of his career with Cruz and the Giants.
Since then, though, life in the NFL has been a bit of a journey for the Texas A&M standout. The Giants released him after 42 career games and 8.5 total sacks, and since 2015 he's moved from Miami to Oakland and back, with a brief stop in Dallas for a workout with the Cowboys. He finished the 2016 season in Seattle – where he most recently recorded seven tackles and a half-sack in four games with the Seahawks.
That's a roundtrip of 5,181 miles in the last two years, so it's understandable if Moore was excited about a chance to come home.
"Honestly, I kept it to myself – I didn't want to tell nobody," he said. "I told my fiancée, and I told my mom once it got a little bit closer … She was all excited, she woke me up early before she went to work. I was just like 'Let's just wait. Let's get it on the dotted line and then we can be happy.'"
The Cowboys made the signing official on Monday, giving them a trio of new defenders to help offset the loss of several starters during this free agency period. Moore doesn't come to Dallas with the type of resume that grabs headlines, but he does possess the talent that made him a top-100 draft pick just four years ago.
Under the guidance of defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys will undoubtedly be hoping Moore can produce good numbers at a low price – similar to previous years' signings like Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain.
"When I came and worked out last year for the team, you could just feel his energy throughout the workout, just kind of pushing you," Moore said of Marinelli. "He said it's pretty much going to be the same thing, and to see all the great guys that he's coached up and produced in this league as far as pass rushers – I'm just eager to come in and work and do everything he says."
If he manages that, there should be plenty of work for Moore this year. The Cowboys have established veterans on the defensive line, but their pass rush has been lacking for the past several seasons. To that end, Moore said he's ready to do whatever is asked of him.[embeddedad0]
"Just come in and establish myself and be the best player I can be – maximize my potential," he said. "Do whatever I can to contribute to the team – as far as on defense, special teams or wherever they need me at. Just coming in, closed mouth, open ears and just ready to play."