Mitch Morse

Extra Points: Giants, Beckham, Redskins, Keenum, Broncos, Morse, CBA

Count Giants owner John Mara among those who never thought the team would trade Odell Beckham Jr. Speaking today from the owner’s meetings, Mara said “he never thought they’d trade Odell right up until the final day,” according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link). Mara also said he finally gave his “reluctant approval” for the deal, Vacchiano wrote in a separate tweet.

In additional comments made to reporters, Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch emphasized over and over how difficult of a decision it was to ship Beckham to the Browns. Mara also said whether or not the trade proves to be a success will be determined by the front office making “the right decisions” with the draft picks the Giants got from Cleveland.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Redskins traded for Case Keenum, but so far they’ve insisted that Keenum will have to compete for Washington’s quarterback job with Colt McCoy, and potentially with a rookie. Alex Smith is all but certain to miss the entire 2019 season. McCoy is, like Smith, recovering from a leg injury. McCoy recently underwent a second surgery on his leg, but is expected to be ready for the Redskins’ offseason program, according to Tarik El-Bashir of The Athletic (Twitter link). It remains to be seen if McCoy will actually seriously push Keenum for the job, but he’ll at least be healthy enough to put up a fight.
  • The Broncos let center Matt Paradis walk in free agency, and they apparently attempted to make a big splash to replace him. Denver tried to sign center Mitch Morse before he signed with Buffalo, according to Mike Klis of Denver 9News. The Bills made Morse the highest-paid center in the league, which priced him out of the Broncos’ range, Klis writes. The Broncos now have major questions on the interior of their offensive line, and Klis expects them to make a move to address them soon.
  • There’s been a lot of talk about a potential work stoppage the next time the CBA expires, with players expected to make major demands that the owners might not be willing to meet. In the run up to those negotiations, there are apparently major tensions between the NFLPA and NFL agents, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com. A group of players and agents had a meeting last week, and multiple sources told Florio “it did not go well.” In a separate post, Florio posted the full memo he obtained about what happened in the meeting. Florio writes that the discord between the two camps “will be music to the ears” of the owners, who would like to see their opponents as divided as possible.

East Notes: Cowboys, Crawford, Jets, Bills

The latest from the AFC and NFC East divisions:

  • Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford was caught on camera brawling inside of a Florida bar, as TMZ details. The 6’4″, 280-pound lineman is shown fighting off four bouncers at once and holding his own. Then, the fight spilled outside, where Crawford got tangled up with multiple cops. Interestingly, Crawford was not arrested and has not been charged with a crime. However, the NFL might have something to say about the incident. After losing Randy Gregory and David Irving to indefinite bans, the Cowboys can ill afford to lose anyone else on the D-Line for the start of the 2019 season.
  • Center was a major need for the Jets this offseason, but they did not make offers to Mitch Morse or Matt Paradis, the top two centers in this year’s free agent class (via Manish Mehta of the Daily News). Instead, they re-upped Jonotthan Harrison on a two-year deal with the hope that he can compete with other versatile interior line additions to come. Brett Jones, who has drawn interest from the Jets and a quintet of other clubs, could be added to the mix.
  • Seahawks free agent Maurice Alexander, a longtime starter for the Rams, will visit the Bills on Thursday and Friday, a source tells NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter).

Extra Points: Jets, Ravens, Draft

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • The Jets were reportedly interested in free agent centers Mitch Morse and Matt Paradis, tweets Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. However, the team never made an offer to either player. Morse ultimately signed with the Bills, while Paradis ended up inking a deal with the Panthers. With the Jets unable to secure either of the top two free agent centers, the front office continues to reach out to other veterans to gauge the market. Mehta notes that the draft could be another way of acquiring a center.
  • Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg is retiring, the team announced. The 63-year-old had been with the organization since 2008, winning one Super Bowl championship along the way. Rosburg previously served in the same role with both the Falcons and Browns. Assistant Special Teams coach Chris Horton is expected to take over, with Rosburg briefly sticking around as a consultant. “I will stay on for a period of time to be a resource for Chris and anyone else during that transition,” said Rosburg. “I have a lot of plans. Me and my plans center around my family. I don’t want to miss as many hockey games and volleyball games as I have. Our days are limited on this earth, and there are some things that I’m missing I don’t want to miss anymore.”
  • Rashan Gary wasn’t active in Michigan’s pro day. According to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter), the potential top-five pick only weighed in and didn’t participate in any drills or testing. Instead, the running back stuck around to support his teammates. As Pelissero notes, the defensive tackle “crushed the combine,” and he didn’t want to risk his draft stock with a lackluster outing today.

Contract Details: Collins, Morse, Graham

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts from around the NFL:

  • Landon Collins, S (Redskins): Six years, $84MM deal, $45MM guaranteed. $15MM signing bonus, $6MM option bonus for 2024 (exercised between first and fifth of 2020). Deal includes $32MM guaranteed over the first two seasons. $5MM of his 2021 salary is guaranteed at signing. Salaries: $1MM (2019), $10MM (2020), $12.5MM (2021), $11.5MM (2022), $12.5MM (2023), $13.5MM (2024). All Twitter links via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, and ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
  • Mitch Morse, C (Bills): Four years, $44.5MM, $26.5MM guaranteed (original story). Receives $19.5MM in 2019, $28.375MM in 2020. Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero.
  • Brandon Graham, DE (Eagles): Three years, $40MM. $23.5MM guaranteed. $12.5MM signing bonus. Salary: $1MM (2019), $10MM (2020). Team option for 2021: $13MM salary and $3.5MM option bonus. Twitter link via Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic.
  • Danny Amendola, WR (Lions): One year, $4.5MM. $4.25MM fully guaranteed. $250K in per-game roster bonuses, $1.25MM in incentives. Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe.
  • Tyler Kroft, TE (Bills): Three years, $18.75MM. $8.3MM guaranteed, $2.4MM signing bonus. Will earn $1.8MM salary in 2019, $4.45MM in 2020. Roster bonuses include $2.1MM (2019), $750K (2020), $750K (2021). Twitter links via Wilson and ESPN’s Mike Rodak.

Bills To Sign Mitch Morse

The Bills just keep on rolling. After landing Frank Gore, Kevin Johnson, and Tyler Kroft, Buffalo is making another big move. Center Mitch Morse has agreed to terms with the Bills, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

This will come with a major pay raise. Morse is expected to receive a contract that will pay him more than $11MM on average, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). It’s a four-year deal, per Yahoo.com’s Terez Paylor (on Twitter). This coming to fruition would make him the NFL’s highest-paid center.

Morse is coming to Buffalo from Kansas City, where he’s spent the past four seasons. The Chiefs took Morse in the second round of the 2015 draft, and he’s been a starter with them ever since. He hasn’t been able to stay healthy the past couple of seasons, which might’ve played into the Chiefs’ decision to let him walk.

Morse appeared in 11 games last year, and just seven the year before that. Morse has dealt with concussion and foot issues the past couple of seasons, but has been an effective player when on the field. In his 11 starts last season, he graded out as the 13th-best center in the league, according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics.

No terms of the deal have been announced at the moment, and it’ll be very interesting to see what Morse gets. The Bills have been very generous with their spending so far, so it’s safe to assume Morse got a fairly big contract. The Chiefs signed Austin Reiter to an extension back in December, and he could become the team’s full-time starting center if they don’t sign or draft anyone else.

Before signing Morse, the Bills were in on Broncos center Matt Paradis, a source told Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link). Vacchiano thinks that could help the Jets’ chances of signing Paradis.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets Interested In Matt Paradis, Mitch Morse

Even after the Jets’ trade for Kelechi Osemele, they remain interested in improving their offensive line. Armed with the second-most cap space in the NFL, the Jets were expected to pursue multiple starters up front. Center appears to be a priority.

The Jets are interested in this year’s top center UFAs-to-be, with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reporting the team has Matt Paradis and Mitch Morse on its radar.

Spencer Long signed with the Jets last year, but he’s now with the Bills after underwhelming as a Jet. Paradis and Morse have longer track records of success, each being four-year starters. The Broncos appear set to let Paradis hit the market, despite their longtime starter profiling as their top free agent, and the Chiefs are likely to let Morse walk because of the major re-ups for other homegrown talents coming relatively soon.

Having started every game with the Broncos since the start of the 2015 season, Paradis broke his fibula to end his 2018 season. But he is still likely to command a top-market contract, having been one of the NFL’s top centers since the 2016 season.

The Eagles and Steelers recently raised the center ceiling, with extensions for Jason Kelce and Maurkice Pouncey moving the market to $11MM per year. Given how teams have spent on offensive linemen in recent years, it is not out of the question the 29-year-old Paradis could exceed that. Ryan Jensen became the highest-paid center via 2018 free agency accord, and Paradis has a longer track record of success.

Morse has battled injuries the past two years, missing 14 starts. But he has been a generally well-regarded center since arriving as a Chiefs second-round pick in 2015. Kansas City has extensions planned for Tyreek Hill and Chris Jones this offseason, having already begun talks with Hill, so players like Morse and Steven Nelson may be permitted to walk as free agents.

Additionally, the Jets are not planning to adjust Osemele’s contract, Mehta tweets. The eighth-year guard is scheduled to carry cap numbers of $10.2MM and $11.7MM in 2019 and ’20, respectively. The Jets will be able to afford these hits. No guaranteed money remains on Osemele’s deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Rumors: Mahomes, Rogers, Ford, OL

Being a first-year starting quarterback, Patrick Mahomes will bring some risk to the Chiefs‘ outlook Alex Smith did not. But the potential reward looks to be much greater. Andy Reid acknowledges the 2017 first-round pick will experience the usual issues adjusting to NFL starter life, but the sixth-year Chiefs coach made it clear he doesn’t want to deprive Mahomes of playmaking opportunities his skill set could create.

You surely don’t want to stifle that at all. One thing that he is blessed with is he has good vision, so you don’t ever want to stifle that and put him in a box with that. Allow him to see,” Reid said from Chiefs training camp in St. Joseph, Mo. “Is there going to be a hiccup here or there? Yeah there’s going to be a hiccup here or there, but you don’t want to stifle that at all.”

Reid added that Mahomes, viewed as a raw but potentially special arm talent out of Texas Tech as a prospect last year, is farther along this year compared to where Smith was in 2013. With the addition of Sammy Watkins, the Chiefs have also outfitted Mahomes with a better collection of skill-position talent than Smith (or possibly any previous Kansas City quarterback) received.

Here’s the latest out of western Missouri:

  • While the Chiefs’ offense looks capable of being one of the NFL’s best units, Kansas City’s defense has plenty of questions. A key one will be the status of their injury-prone edge rushers. Justin Houston enters camp healthy and is signed long-term, but Dee Ford may only be back because an injury left him unable to pass a March physical. His $8.718MM fifth-year option vested, but Ford realizes he’s under pressure to perform this season after a career that’s seen just one productive year (2016, when he had a Chiefs-most 10 sacks). The Chiefs also drafted edge defenders in each of the past two second rounds, in Tanoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks (the latter of whom K.C. traded up to acquire). “Everyone’s seen flashes of what I can do. This is the opportunity to really (show it) for 16 games,” Ford said, via Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. “In order to be a great player you have to be consistent. You can’t just be good (like 2016 in) those first 10 games or so before I got hurt. Everybody was like, ‘That’s the guy we expected,’ and then I got hurt. … This is the time to put it all together.”
  • Eli Rogers left his Chiefs visit Monday without a deal, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). Rogers will now meet with the Browns, who have his three-year OC on staff in Todd Haley. The Raiders have also scheduled a summit with the slot receiver. Behind Watkins and Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs employ Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, Jehu Chesson and the recently re-signed De’Anthony Thomas.
  • Despite a 2016 ACL tear hijacking both of Parker Ehinger‘s first two NFL seasons, he still might be the frontrunner to work as the Chiefs’ starting left guard, Nate Taylor of The Athletic writes (subscription required). A fourth-round pick out of Cincinnati two years ago, Ehinger opened his rookie year as a starter but missed all but one game last season. Bryan Witzmann and Jordan Devey represent his primary competitors, per Taylor, who adds that Cameron Erving could linger here as well if he cannot unseat fourth-year center Mitch Morse.
  • Like Ford, Spencer Ware‘s been cleared to begin training camp without a PUP list stay, but the 2016 starter won’t automatically be given the backup job, per Taylor. Charcandrick West remains a factor and scored four touchdowns as Kareem Hunt‘s backup last season. West and Ware will battle for the backup role, just as they did in 2015 when they vied for time behind a then-healthy Jamaal Charles.

AFC West Notes: Raiders, Mack, Chiefs

Tony Sparano changed the Raiders‘ culture during his time in Oakland, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes. Sparano, who died unexpectedly over the weekend, didn’t win when he was at the helm of the Raiders, but he earned the respect of his players through his hard work and love of the game.

He is up close and personal and blunt,” defensive end Justin Tuck once said. “He treats like you a man. I like his coaching style. … He is honest. There is no B.S. with Coach Sparano.”

Sparano worked for nine NFL teams in 19 seasons and he touched innumerable lives during his years on the sidelines. Success is largely measured by wins and losses in football, but Sparano achieved a great deal even when the record of his team did not show it.

Here’s more from the AFC West:

  • There’s reason to believe that Khalil Mack could take an aggressive approach towards his negotiations with the Raiders, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets. Corry notes that Mack is represented by Joel Segal, who represented running back Chris Johnson‘s during his holdout with the Titans in 2011. If Mack has the same resolve as Johnson, the Raiders may not see him until he gets a new deal. For reference, Johnson’s holdout in 2011 was not resolved until early September.
  • Good news for the Chiefs. Center Mitch Morse, linebacker Dee Ford, and running back Spencer Ware are expected to practice with the team and will not go on the PUP list to start camp (via the Associated Press). “All those guys, everybody else is good,” head coach Andy Reid said. “Again I just want to see on the field and we’ll kind of monitor as it goes but, yeah, they all should be ready to go.”
  • Broncos linebacker Shane Ray received some unexpected good news this week. He won’t have to undergo another wrist surgery and the team believes that he is not in danger of missing games.
  • Earl Thomas to the Chargers? Don’t bet on it.

Chiefs Place C Mitch Morse On IR

The Chiefs will have to make their playoff push without their starting center in the lineup. On Friday, the team announced that Morse is headed to injured reserve with a foot injury. Cornerback Keith Reaser has been promoted from the practice squad to take his place on the roster. Mitch Morse (vertical)

Without Morse, the Chiefs will be forced to put fourth-year pro Zach Fulton in the starting lineup. Swingman Cameron Erving will serve as Fulton’s primary backup.

Morse, 25, first suffered the injury in the Chiefs’ Week 2 game against the Eagles. He returned in late October, but the issue flared up again in the Chiefs’ recent loss to the Jets. Morse was carted off the field in that game and had to be held out of Sunday’s win over the Raiders.

The loss of Morse comes at a particularly bad time as the offensive line has to contend with the Chargers’ tenacious pass rush.

They’re playing very well right now,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said this week (via the Chargers’ website). “Their pass rush is tremendous right now. It was good against us. Look at our third downs the last time we played them; they got after us. They’re playing at a very high level, and the secondary, they don’t do a lot but they do it very well. They have a great defensive coordinator. Gus does a great job there. They’re in good hands.”

The Chiefs have a 64% chance of winning the division, according to the playoff odds calculated by the New York Times. Of course, those odds decrease significantly if they lose on Saturday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Hawks, 49ers, Chiefs, Broncos

Jimmy Graham isn’t a lock to be ready when the Seahawks face the Titans on Sunday after going down with an ankle injury, head coach Pete Carroll told reporters, including Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (Twitter link). Seattle has scored only 21 points through two games, and Graham has contributed to that offensive ineptitude by posting just four catches for nine total yards. If Graham is out next week, the Seahawks will turn to Luke Willson and Nick Vannett at tight end.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions, with a focus on injury news:

  • The 49ers will be without safety Eric Reid on Thursday night as he recovers from a PCL injury, and the 25-year-old defensive back will likely miss additional games, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters, including Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee (Twitter links). Luckily, Reid won’t require surgery on his injury knee, limiting the period of his absence. Reid, who’s playing in his contract season, missed six games in 2016 following a biceps tear.
  • Center Mitch Morse suffered a foot sprain during Sunday’s Chiefs game, but an MRI revealed that he won’t require surgery, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Nevertheless, Morse will be sidelined for a “few weeks” as he recovers, per Rapoport. Morse, 25, has started 33 contests in two-plus years with Kansas City, but the club will now be forced to turn to other options. Zach Fulton took over at the pivot yesterday, while recent trade acquisition Cameron Erving could also be a candidate for snaps. The Chiefs face the Chargers, Redskins, Texans, and Steelers over the next month.
  • The Broncos are breathing a sigh of relief — after initially fearing rookie left tackle Garett Bolles broke his foot on Sunday, Denver learned that Bolles has only a bone bruise, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Bolles is now considered week-to-week, which almost assuredly means he’ll be sidelined for the Broncos’ Week 3 contest against the Bills. Both Donald Stephenson and Allen Barbre played left tackle in Bolles’ absence yesterday, and both will likely be options for Denver going forward.