The Buffalo Bills were thinking of Josh Allen when they decided to make Mitch Morse the highest paid center in the NFL.
Morse was thinking about Allen when he decided he liked the idea of moving from Kansas City to Buffalo in free agency.
The two sides explained how they were on the same wavelength about the team’s big quarterback Thursday when Morse was introduced as the new leader of the Bills’ offensive line.
“It’s very important to have a good center, not only one that can physically play but one that’s a very good communicator,” Bills General Manager Beane said. “You’ve got to adjust, and a good center takes a little bit of the pressure off the quarterback, with all the twists and stunts and all that’s going on; guys disguising coming up, pre-snap.”
“I was in Carolina a good while, and we had Ryan Kalil,” Beane said of the Panthers’ All-Pro center. “And he took a lot of pressure off Cam Newton. You go back to the first guy I extended here was Eric Wood. ... I think you can see my philosophy, and that’s the guy we spent the most on, that I do think it’s an important position.”
Morse’s four-year contract averages $11.1 million, putting him just ahead of Pittsburgh’s Maurkice Pouncey ($11 million) atop the NFL’s center salary list.
Of course, money was the huge factor in the fact Buffalo won the bidding for Morse. But the soon-to-be 27-year-old Texan said he didn’t have to be talked into a move to Western New York.
“I think Josh is a heck of an arm talent, one of the many reasons I came to Buffalo,” he said. “I looked into that, after what he did in Year One. I still have to grow as a football player, and I’m sure he’ll say the same thing about himself. And I’m hoping we can do that together and as an offense. He reached out to me after it got official that I was coming here, we texted a bit, and he seems like a really good guy.”
Morse played last season in front of uber-athlete Patrick Mahomes, the NFL's most valuable player, last season.
“Pat’s mobility definitely helps, and Josh has that same deal, and that always helps an offensive line,” Morse said. “Just to see him progress as a quarterback and the strides he made, it was impressive. So I’m looking forward to hopefully making that next step with Josh. Each quarterback is different and I'm looking forward to understanding his intricacies and just try to make him be the best football player he can me and hopefully he can help me out as well.”
The 6-foot-5-inch, 305-pound Morse gives the Bills an athlete the caliber of Wood at center. Morse was the 49th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Wood was drafted by the Bills 28th in 2009. Morse brings the kind of mobility the Bills lacked after Wood retired due to a neck injury.
“Mitch is a very good player, that’s the first thing when you turn on the film,” Beane said. “He’s big. He’s stout. He’s playing left tackle when he came out of college. I remember interviewing him at the combine. He was very smart then. You see him communicating. You see his leadership.
“We thought it was very important to shore up that area and keep the pocket firm for Josh and also help us in the run game. I think he’ll be a good fit here.”
Morse seemed uneasy about being hailed as the No. 1-paid center in the NFL. It’s not what he’s about.
“For me, being the highest paid, that wasn’t a point of pride for me,” Morse said. “It just kind of happened like that and it’s very exciting for the family and for me, to put my family in a position to have financial security. I guess other people find it more exciting than I do. It’s a blessing by all means, but for me, I’m excited to be a part of this organization and being the best teammate.”
If there’s any chink in Morse’s resume it’s durability. He played all of his first two seasons in Kansas City. But he missed nine games in 2017 due to a foot injury and five last season due to a concussion.
He said he is confident there are no lingering concussion issues.
“For me it’s something I don’t worry about,” he said. “I’ve done my research, and I went to the Michigan Sports Neuro Institute last week and did a battery of tests, and everything checks out. ... You can’t go out there and play timid, I don’t plan on playing timid, I plan on putting my face on a few blocks and going out there and just competing. ... It’s not anything I have to worry about in the future.”
Morse felt welcome from the moment he arrived in Buffalo, when he was met at the airport by fans with some chicken wings.
“I kind of did my vetting when it came down to the nitty gritty of it, and why not Buffalo?” he said. “It’s such a good town, good people, and I was able to do some research on the ownership, GM, head coach, and it seemed like the perfect fit.”