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90 Buffalo Bills players in 90 days: C Mitch Morse

The veteran pivot looks to remain healthy in 2023

2023 NFL Pro Bowl Games Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

All the way back in 2019, the Buffalo Bills knew they had to add offensive line help for quarterback Josh Allen. As a young, raw rookie, Allen struggled to read defenses and assign blitz pickups. While many people note the importance of the left tackle in protecting a quarterback’s “blind side,” an oft-overlooked star of the offensive line is the center.

The center is the one who helps diagnose blitzes, the one who makes the line calls up front, and the one who assists in sliding protections to cover the defense ahead. For any quarterback, a quality center can lessen the load they have to carry on any given Sunday. For the Bills, they’ve had the luxury of having a great center for the last four seasons.

In today’s installment of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss that great center — a veteran who some have suggested shouldn’t be on the roster for a fifth season. Spoil alert: I’m not one of those people.

Name: Mitch Morse

Number: 60

Position: C

Height/Weight: 6’6”, 305 pounds

Age: 31 (32 on 4/21/2024)

Experience/Draft: 9; selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round (No. 49 overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft

College: Missouri

Acquired: Signed with Buffalo on 3/13/2019

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Morse enters the first year of a two-year extension he signed in March of last year. The contract is worth a total of $19.5 million, of which $12 million is guaranteed. More than 75% of the guarantees come due this year, as Buffalo would be responsible for a dead-cap charge of $8.36 million if they were to release him prior to the start of Week 1. Morse carries a cap hit of $11.36 million this year.

2022 Recap: Morse was once again Buffalo’s starting center, but after playing in each of the team’s games in 2021, he missed some time with various injuries last year. He suffered an elbow injury early in the year that cost him most of Buffalo’s game against the Tennessee Titans and all of their first matchup with the Miami Dolphins. That same elbow injury lingered long enough where he also had to sit on Thanksgiving Day against the Detroit Lions. He suffered another concussion during Buffalo's win over the Dolphins in December, which led him to miss the next game against the Chicago Bears, as well. Even after all that, Morse was named to his first Pro Bowl for his play. He committed three penalties and allowed three sacks on the year, appearing on 767 total offensive snaps.

Positional outlook: Morse is one of a handful of true centers on the roster. Greg Mancz and Ryan Bates are the other players Buffalo lists as a guard/center.

2023 Offseason: Morse had offseason surgery on his elbow and his ankle, but he is healthy and should be ready to roll for training camp.

2023 Season outlook: The time may be approaching where the Bills will move on from their center, but it doesn’t look like this year is the one they’ll do it. Morse is still a fantastic player, and for my money, he’s the team’s best offensive lineman. Sure, Pro Football Focus graded him poorly last season, but I always take those numbers with a grain of salt.

Ask any quarterback how important it is to have a center who they can trust to make all the right calls in front of them and they’ll tell you that it’s paramount for their own success. Morse has been quarterback Josh Allen’s guy since the 2019 season — Allen’s first year where he entered the season as the unquestioned QB1 — and Morse has been an integral part of Allen’s development. It’s just not worth saving the $3 million on the 2023 cap to release Morse even with the additions the Bills have made to the interior offensive line.

While a future line of Connor McGovern, Ryan Bates, and O’Cyrus Torrence may be something we see, unless Morse is injured, it shouldn’t be the norm in 2023. Morse has at least one more year where I’m confident that he’s Buffalo’s starting center.