For four years, Moats has stayed loyal to Buffalo, but with his contract expiring at the start of free agency, the sixth-round pick from the 2010 draft will have the opportunity to entertain other offers if he’s not re-signed by the Bills prior to mid-March.
“I’m excited about it. It’s my first time going through this whole process,” Moats said. “I’m going to listen to the older guys on the team and get a feel for the whole process and go from there.”
But the decision process for Moats will be different than most other Bills player. Over the past couple of years he’s ingrained himself into the Buffalo community.
The 25-year-old was named Buffalo’s 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his philanthropic efforts in the community, most notably in his affiliation with United Way of Buffalo and Erie County. Moats, who volunteers to encourage others to also give their time or money back to the community, said he’s become attached to the area.
“I feel like I’m in a position where I can influence people and touch a lot of lives,” Moats said. “My family and I understand the spot we’re in and want to help people out and let everyone know that we’re in Buffalo to be a part of the community.”
But change is a reality for free agents, as few players in the NFL play for only one team. Still, all things considered Moats would prefer to re-sign with the Bills.
“I definitely feel like it factors in a lot. This is the only team I’ve been on in four years consecutively,” Moats said. “It’s definitely a good feeling. I feel like the people of the community appreciate me so it’s definitely a good feeling here.”
The decision isn’t only in his hands. Although Moats saw the most action on defense in his career, having started 12 games and played in all 16. He had a career-high 54 tackles.
The Virginia native played on average in 25 percent of the defense’s snaps, but in the last four games he only played in a combined three snaps, and didn’t play outside of special teams in the final two games.
Moats said he was pleased with his role in Mike Pettine’s defensive scheme, perhaps because his role his first three years was never effectively defined on defense.
“I feel like I definitely had a good role. It definitely fluctuated a little bit. But just as a whole on defense I feel like we have a lot of good core guys,” Moats said. “I feel like from there we’re just going to continue to build on it.”
Moats said his familiarity with the defense and his ability to fill in a variety of roles should make negotiations smooth.
“Anytime you’re able to build a rapport with a coordinator and get more familiar with the system it definitely helps out,” He said. “Anytime you don’t have to adjust and start over from scratch, it’s only going to help us build on it and be more effective next year.”
Free agency begins March 11. So his long term future hasn’t reached the point of dominating his thinking.
“I told myself during the season I wouldn’t even think about it until the season was over,” Moats said. “Now that it’s over I guess I’ll start thinking about it.”