(WKBW) — On the first day that teams were allowed to speak with soon-to-be free agents, the Buffalo Bills landed a premium player at a desperate position of need.
According to multiple reports, the Bills have agreed to terms with Kansas City free agent center Mitch Morse. The deal, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com, is worth a total of $44 million over a four-year contract.
After the reported additions of running back Frank Gore, tight end Tyler Kroft, and cornerback Kevin Johnson, Morse is far and away the most significant addition on the first day both in respect to his impact on the team and their salary cap. He steps in as the starting center on the Bills roster without question.
Morse spent four seasons as a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, having started all 49 games that he was available.
Joe B's Take
When the Buffalo Bills unexpectedly lost center Eric Wood to a career-ending neck injury, the Bills went into scramble mode for the 2018 season. Believing firmly in him, they gave him a lucrative contract extension in August of 2017 that they wound up having to eat as a dead money hit in 2018.
With limited cap room for the position, the Bills attempted to cobble the center position together with the combination of Ryan Groy and Russell Bodine. However, when both players struggled significantly in 2018, the Bills knew they had to act in free agency.
To general manager Brandon Beane, the center spot isn't one of those positions that you expect a young draft pick to walk into seamlessly. Especially with second-year quarterback Josh Allen, a steady veteran presence was the much more preferable option, which is why the Bills acted so powerfully in free agency.
Enter Morse, who is the no-doubt-about-it starter right from the start, and steps in as a 26-year-old entering the prime of his career for the Bills to build around. On the field, Morse brings so much more to the table than what the Bills had been dealing with over the last 16 games.
A considerable problem all season was Groy and Bodine's inability to hold their ground when the ball was snapped, which resulted in numerous pressures and broken plays in both the running and passing attack. With Morse, that is no longer an issue.
Morse's tall, long frame handles bull rushers quite well, and especially against interior pass rushers, he has a strong ability to anchor down and not surrender any substantial territory. His athleticism in both the screen game and in blocking for running plays is noticeable as well, making him into a high upside pickup for the Bills.
Another facet of Morse's game that stands out is his feel and timing to perform combination blocks to help spring his runners forward successfully. He also shows the penchant for burying his assignment when he has the opportunity to -- which is something the Bills centers lacked in 2018 as well.
Now, if there's one area that Morse struggles, he'll get caught taking a false step or two every once in a while, and an athletic interior lineman can get the better of him. If there's one area for him to improve, it's as a run blocker.
However, for an above average starting center in the NFL, there is a lot to like.
As he enters what are stereotypically the best years of a player's career, the Bills are expecting big things from one of their highest paid players. They need a leader along the offensive line, a steadying hand for Allen, and someone that can perform the job at a high level -- or at least, a lot higher of a level than what they got from Bodine and Groy.
The job along the offensive line isn't done with the Bills still needing to add one or two more starters, but this was the key cog they needed as free agency opened up -- and they certainly paid a premium to do it, too.
Now it's on Morse to prove that the tape he put together in Kansas City will be the same guy they get moving forward as the Bills try to take the next step.