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Steelers sign WR Moore to 2-year deal

| Friday, March 21, 2014, 10:03 a.m.

Ben Roethlisberger is going to have to adjust to throwing to another smallish receiver.

After unexpectedly losing Jerricho Cotchery in free agency, the Steelers didn't take long to find his replacement in former New Orleans Saints receiver Lance Moore.

Despite averaging 55 catches over the previous four seasons, Moore didn't find much interest in the free agent market until signing a two-year contract Friday with the Steelers.

Roethlisberger likes having at least one tall receiver, but Moore is 5-foot-9 — four inches shorter than Cotchery. Antonio Brown, the Steelers' top receiver, is 5-10.

The Steelers anticipated re-signing Cotchery, who caught 10 touchdown passes last season. But he couldn't work out terms and ended up signing an $8 million, five-year contract Thursday with the Carolina Panthers, with $2.25 million guaranteed.

Moore had 65 catches for 1,041 yards in 2012, but his production fell to 37 catches for 457 yards and two touchdowns last season. He had 346 catches and 38 touchdowns in eight seasons with the Saints, including a career high 79 receptions and 10 touchdowns in 2008.

Moore averaged 61 catches from 2010-12, with 22 touchdown catches. He played in college at Toledo with Steelers backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.

Moore, 30, is expected to assume Cotchery's role as a slot receiver.

Also on Friday, the Steelers re-signed blocking tight end Michael Palmer to a one-year contract. Coach Mike Tomlin praised Palmer's special teams work, which helped push him past David Paulson on the depth chart. Palmer, 26, played in all 16 games with the Steelers last season, playing 49 snaps and catching one pass.

The Steelers, who met with former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew earlier this week, are expected to meet with New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount early next week, according to a source with knowledge of the visit. The Baltimore Ravens also have an interest in Blount.

Blount ran for 772 yards during the regular season, with 189 yards in the final regular-season game against Buffalo. He followed that with a 166-yard, four-touchdown performance against the Indianapolis Colts in the playoffs, but he had only five carries for 6 yards in New England's AFC title game loss in Denver.

The Steelers are looking for a backup to Le'Veon Bell, the only experienced running back on their roster.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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