The Jacksonville Jaguars must prioritize the center position in the offseason. Luke Fortner has simply done not enough to prove he's the long-term answer at the position. While he could eventually put it all together, the Jags cannot afford to wait for him and need an immediate fix at the position. This is why they should make a run for veteran Mitch Morse if he becomes a cap casualty.
Mitch, a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, has spent the last five seasons with the Buffalo Bills. He has one year left on the $19.5 million extension he signed in 2022 but there's a realistic chance he'll be a cap casualty in the offseason. Right now, the Bills are $51.2 million over the cap and they'll need to trim the payroll to get out of the red. This makes players such as Von Miller, Stefon Diggs, and Morse candidates for release.
The Jaguars may not need the services of Miller or Diggs, but Morse could bolster the center position. At 31, he's managed to stay healthy the past five seasons, missing just six games in that span. He's coming off a year in which he gave up just one sack and 27 total pressures. Also, the former Mizzou Tiger posted a Pro Football Focus overall grade of 64.1 last year.
Buffalo would probably want to keep Morse around but their cap situation may make it challenging. Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic believes they should give him a one-year extension that adds three void years to his contract to free up a bit over $5 million and create a bit of breathing room. However, general manager Brandon Beane may want to use the opportunity to get younger at center.
The Jaguars should only target Mitch Morse if he becomes a free agent
Mitch Morse has a cap hit of $11.5 million for 2024 and the Bills could free up $8.5 million if they release him. That makes it a more realistic candidate to get released than to get his contract restructured. And that's the thing, the Jags should only consider pursuing him if he becomes a free agent. Trading for him doesn't make much sense when you take into account that there will be other quality centers available in the open market.
One benefit of adding Morse in the offseason is that the Jaguars would have the chance to develop a young center behind him. They could use a mid-round pick at the position this year or next. If they nail the pick, they could then move on from the veteran. Another thing that should incentivize the team's brass to target Morse is that it won't be cost-prohibitive to sign him if he does become available.
There are currently a handful of centers set to be available in free agency. The Jaguars will have their fair share to choose from if they address the position. Mitch Morse would give them yet another option if he does become a cap casualty.