Mitch Morse would give Jaguars an affordable and reliable upgrade at center

• The Jaguars are weighing in their options at center before free agency starts.

Oct 30, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills center Mitch Morse (60) lines up for a play
Oct 30, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills center Mitch Morse (60) lines up for a play / Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars are keeping most of their offensive line from last year intact. However, they could make a small, albeit considerable change at center. With incumbent Luke Fortner regressing in 2023, the Jags are exploring any potential upgrades at the position, so they're reportedly hosting veteran Mitch Morse for a visit.

Jeremy Fowler of ESPN reported that Morse is flying to Jacksonville after meeting with the Pittsburgh Steelers on the Friday before free agency kicks in. A few days prior, the Buffalo Bills had released Morse in an effort to get cap relief. A second-round pick in 2015, played four seasons for the Kansas City Chiefs before joining the Bills in 2019, where he spent the last five years.

Throughout his career, Morse has been a dependable center. Just last year, he posted a 64.1 Pro Football Focus grade while allowing 27 pressures and one sack, showing he's still going strong ahead of 2024.

While it's not a given that Morse will join the Jaguars, there are a couple reasons the pairing would make sense. For starters, it wouldn't be cost-prohibitive. He'll probably ask for more than the veteran's minimum but even if his contract demands are in the range of $5 million, that's an amount that can easily fit the team's current budget.

Another reason Morse would be a fit is that he's previously played for head coach Doug Pederson, as a rookie, back when Pederson was the offensive coordinator for the Chiefs. John Shipley of Sports Illustrated unveiled this nugget on Twitter.

Mitch Morse gives the Jaguars an option before free agency starts

Now, Mitch Morse would be a slight yet notable upgrade over Luke Fortner, who ranked 31st in pass protection among centers last year. That said, the Jaguars may (or should) still explore other options at the position. Morse, at 31, surely has a couple seasons left on him, maybe more, and Fortner could learn behind him for at least one year.

However, there will be other more talented centers in free agency. Among them are Lloyd Cushenberry III, and Andre James. Both are younger (but more expensive) than Morse. The one advantage that comes with signing Morse is that because he was released, it wouldn't count toward the compensatory pick formula in 2024. Then again, that shouldn't stop the team's brass from looking for the best possible option available.

It's also worth noting that Jacksonville could draft a young center prospect on Day 2 (Graham Barton, Sedrick Van Pran) and develop him as Fortner's potential replacement. But if the Jaguars want to go bold, they could go after Jackson Powers-Johnson, the best center in this year's class. This path, though, is unlikely when you take into account that cornerback, the defensive line and maybe wide receiver will be more pressing needs.

For the time being, the Jacksonville Jaguars will host Morse and see if he's a fit. He may or may not be, but they're taking a step toward ensuring they make an upgrade to what was without a doubt the weakest link on the offensive line last year.

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