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Dayton Fliers: Unheralded Parallels


Jake Delhomme and Matt Moore are intertwined in many ways - from their personal friendship to their position and most obviously, the Panthers. However, their strongest common bond may be the way they came into the National Football League.

Both quarterbacks were undrafted rookie free agents and had to overcome stiff odds. When you come in to the NFL that way, it takes confident coaches and management to go out on a limb for you. The Panthers had this in 2003 when general manager Marty Hurney and head coach John Fox signed Delhomme as an unrestricted free agent from the New Orleans Saints.

Kordell Stewart and Jeff Blake were the popular choices among the media and fans that offseason, and Delhomme's resume was sketchy at best. He had attempted less than 100 passes in five seasons, and his three touchdown passes were equaled by the number of times he had been waived out of the league.

The signing left Carolina with Rodney Peete, Chris Weinke and Delhomme on the depth chart at quarterback and a chorus of questions about the position. Peete had gone 7-7 as a starter the previous season but was on the backside of a 16-year career that had seen him play for five other teams. Weinke had started throughout a tough rookie season in 2001.

In the middle of the first game of the 2003 season, Delhomme came in to rally Carolina to a 24-23 come-from-behind win against Jacksonville. The rest is history as he led the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII, an NFC title, two NFC Championship games and three playoff appearances.

Nevertheless, Delhomme never seemed to get the acclaim one might think for a quarterback who compiled a 58-40 record as a starter. When a player starts as an undrafted free agent, he has a steeper hill to climb in more ways than one.

Draft analysis has become a 12 months a year business, and it takes a player longer to get recognition when he is not part of that original discussion. When he is not drafted, he has to get to the back of the line.

That's where Delhomme and Moore converge. Like Delhomme, Moore has started at the back of the line. Similar to Delhomme, management maneuvered three years ago to obtain him in a manner that did not elicit headlines when he was claimed off waivers. Originally, the Panthers planned to carry two quarterbacks in 2007, but Hurney and the team's scouts liked what they saw from Moore in preseason play for the Cowboys.

Delhomme's road, which began in 1997 - a year when Jim Druckenmiller was a first-round draft choice, now has carried him to Cleveland. Everyone connected with the Panthers wishes him the very best. What he gave the franchise on and off the field will always be appreciated by those associated with the team.

Moore's road is just beginning. Time will determine any further parallels, but Moore has gotten off to a nice start.

1 JaMarcus Russell Oakland 354 680 4,083 18 23 65.2
1 Brady Quinn Cleveland 184 353 1,902 10 9 66.8
2 Kevin Kolb Philadelphia 79 130 885 4 7 68.9
2 John Beck Miami 60 107 559 1 3 62.0
2 Drew Stanton Detroit 35 68 378 1 6 36.3
3 Trent Edwards Buffalo 506 826 5,498 24 25 77.9
5 Jeff Rowe Seattle 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
5 Troy Smith Baltimore 48 89 558 3 1 79.7
6 Jordan Palmer Washington 7 12 41 0 2 25.3
7 Tyler Thigpen Minnesota 236 434 2,732 19 15 73.8
Undrafted Matt Moore   148 249 1,783 11 7 84.5

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