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Another Steelers Center Option Hits Open Market

With the Steelers in dire need of a center, former Bills center Mitch Morse could be an option to replace Mason Cole.



Steelers possible free agent target center Mitch Morse
Buffalo Bills center Mitch Morse against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Jan. 15, 2024. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

The Buffalo Bills made a slew of cap-saving cuts on Wednesday, and one of the moves was getting rid of veteran center Mitch Morse. Morse was due $8.5 million in salary this upcoming season.

Morse spent five seasons in Buffalo and earned a Pro Bowl selection in 2022. After the failed Mason Cole experiment, it’s no secret that the Steelers are in need of a center, so Morse could be a potential option. Albeit, they’ll most likely address the position early in the draft.

Morse turns 32 in April, so he’s definitely not a long-term solution. But he would be a massive upgrade to Cole, who was released by the Steelers on Feb. 23. Steelers general manager Omar Khan feels comfortable with what they have at center because of the positional flexibility of guards Nate Herbig and James Daniels, but specifically Herbig, who served as the team’s backup guard and center in 2023.

“Right now, we have Nate Herbig,” Khan said at the NFL Combine. “I always talk about offensive linemen that have position flexibility. That’s always been important to me. We have offensive linemen that are center-capable. But that’s not to say that we’re not going to take a look in free agency and the trade market and the draft process. There’s some good players at every one of those. We feel good about the center draft. We feel good about the center free agents. …

“We have position-flexible guys that are starters in the league as it is, but we’re always going to try to improve the team. We cut our starting center from last year. We feel good about Nate Herbig. But if there’s an opportunity to bring in some good competition, we’re going to do it.”

While Khan professed his confidence in Herbig playing center, if the team was so confident that he could play there, why did he never get a shot to beat out Cole in 2023, while Cole struggled mightily? He has played less than 50 snaps of center in his NFL career.

The Steelers have a great history in drafting centers, two of them are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — Mike Webster and Dermontti Dawson — and Maurkice Pouncey could be in Canton someday, as well. The Steelers nailed it when signing center Jeff Hartings in free agency back in 2001, but they missed on Sean Mahan in 2007 and Cole in 2022, along with drafting Kendrick Green in 2021.

Judging by Khan’s comments, it doesn’t seem like they’ll go the free agent route at center again, even though Morse is a solid veteran.

With top centers Jackson Powers-Johnson, Graham Barton, Zach Frazier and Sedrick Van Pran all likely picks in the first three rounds, the Steelers are functionally nearly locking themselves into taking a center early if they don’t add a significant free agent.