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Opinion: Mitch Morse is a sneaky extension candidate for 2022

What the Buffalo Bills should do with Tremaine Edmunds has been a hot topic amongst Bills Mafia for what feels like forever. Ed Oliver became eligible for a contract extension this offseason and that has migrated its way into the consciousness of the fanbase. Stefon Diggs has played under a notably below-market deal in Buffalo for two years and rumblings about a contract extension for him have started to percolate.

Now that Josh Allen is locked up for the foreseeable future, the “who gets extended next” narrative can go in a lot of different directions, but let me add even one more to the list: the Bills should look into an extension for center Mitch Morse. Morse is entering the last year of the four-year deal he signed in 2019 and that deal got reworked last offseason to take $2 million off his salary and replace it with incentives to lower his 2021 cap hit. He has lived up to the contract he signed, giving up 15, 19, and 26 pressures during the last three seasons respectively while remaining a plus run blocker on the move. Among NFL centers with over 403 snaps, Morse’s 98.2 pass blocking efficiency ranks him 13th in the NFL. In short, he’s been as advertised when the Bills made him the highest-paid center in the NFL at the time of that contract signing when accounting for typical unrestricted free-agent premium.

With an $11.25 million cap hit in 2022, he’s a great candidate for an extension that can lower that cap hit without creating a hole in the center of Josh Allen’s protection to save a few million dollars. Luckily for the Bills, the center market hasn’t inflated drastically since Morse signed his deal and it’s likely that a two-year extension with a total value of $20-22 million in average annual value could get it done while lowering his 2022 cap number.

With the Bills’ release of Jon Feliciano and Ryan Bates’s ascension into the starting lineup, now may not be the time to be playing fast and loose with a meaningful and solid part of the offensive line. The depth should continue to be reinforced through value free agents and the draft, but cap savings can be had without removal of Morse from the roster.

A.J. Klein and Jon Feliciano were cut candidates because the value proposition (what you give in salary-cap figure vs what you get back in production) was deemed by the team to be out of balance. but Morse is a different case. An extension rather than release is my preferred way of handling it.