KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs lost their first free agent of the 2019 offseason with the departure of center Mitch Morse, who agreed to a four-year deal worth more than $11 million per year with the Buffalo Bills, a source confirmed to Chiefs Digest.
The deal worth more than $44 million makes Morse the highest-paid center in the league, at least temporarily. Denver Broncos center Matt Paradis remains in the market, and expects to sign a free agent deal in the ballpark of Morse's deal with Buffalo.
Austin Reiter filled in at center with Morse and veteran Jordan Devey out with injuries, and the club re-signed Reiter to a two-year, $4.5 million extension during the season. The 27-year-old Reiter expects to enter the offseason program as the starter, but the Chiefs do have other options. Left guard Cam Erving has experience at center, although the Chiefs prefer to keep him at guard.
Rookie free agent Jimmy Murray from Holy Cross finished the season on the active roster, and he played center during offseason workouts and training camp. The club also has rookie free agent Tejan Koroma from BYU on the roster, who ended the season on injured reserve following a knee injury during training camp.
Morse joined the Chiefs as a second-round selection from Missouri in the 2015 NFL draft. He immediately joined the starting lineup at center, starting 15 games. He earned All-Rookie team honors from the Pro Football Writers of America. A concussion ended his season early, however, keeping him out of the team's postseason run.
He quickly emerged in 2016 as one of the league's best pass protectors at center. He maintains a streak of more than 1,600 snaps without yielding a sack, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Chiefs started negotiations with Morse on a contract extension in 2017, but a foot injury limited Morse to seven games that season, and the club discontinued talks, a source told Chiefs Digest. Without a deal in place before his free agent season, the Chiefs allowed Morse to walk away at the end of the season.
A concussion limited Morse to 11 regular season games in 2018, but he finished the final seven games of the season and playoffs injury free.
Morse expects to become the anchor for a Bills offensive line that ranked ninth in rushing yards but allowed 41 sacks last season