The Philadelphia Eagles are signing free agent linebacker Nicholas Morrow to a one-year contract. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler was first to report the news that has since been officially confirmed by the team.
Morrow, who turns 28 in July, originally signed with the then-Oakland Raiders as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Greenville University (Division III) in 2017. The 6’0, 216 pounder ended up starting five times in his first season and logged 29 total starts in 62 games played with the Raiders. He notched 254 total tackles, 22 passes defensed, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and four sacks during that span.
The Raiders proved they valued Morrow to some extent when they placed a second-rounder tender on him as a restricted free agent in 2020. He then missed the entire 2021 season after suffering an ankle injury in training camp.
Following a regime change with Josh McDaniels taking over as head coach, Morrow left Las Vegas to sign a one-year deal with the Chicago Bears in 2022. He played in all 17 regular season games and recorded 116 tackles, two passes defensed, and one interception. Morrow allowed a 101.8 passer rating in coverage (per Pro Football Reference), which isn’t great. He did post a career-best 4.9% missed tackle rate, which is good.
Interestingly enough, Pro Football Focus highlighted Morrow as the Bears’ selection for their “One free agent each NFL team can’t afford to lose” article. Here’s what they had to say:
The Bears got ahead of a pending free agent situation at off-ball linebacker by trading Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens at the deadline, and they will be doing a whole lot more adding than subtracting this upcoming offseason. Realistically, they can afford to lose anyone because they can also afford to add anyone.
That said, they can’t spend big at every single position, and while off-ball linebacker may resemble the deepest position in all of free agency, Morrow is a solid all-around player who can play at the Will or Mike spots in Matt Eberflus’ defense. Morrow logged a career-high 1,086 snaps and earned his second consecutive coverage grade above 60.0 this past season. He could be a nice depth piece with starting potential on a cheap deal, a familiar face on a roster that is about to have very few in two months’ time.
Of course, that much was written before the Bears went out and spent significant resources on free agent linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and former Eagle T.J. Edwards. Morrow became expendable with those guys in the fold.
The Birds had a major need at linebacker after letting Edwards and Kyzir White — their two starters in 2022 — leave in free agency. Morrow could be a reasonable one-year stop gap at the position. He’s experienced, he’s versatile, and he’s been durable outside of the one season he missed.
Then again, the Eagles’ history with linebackers of Morrow’s ilk hasn’t always been great. White was the exception to a bad trend that previously included the likes of Corey Nelson, Eric Wilson, Paul Worrilow, Zach Brown, Jatavis Brown. The Eagles don’t like to invest significant resources at off-ball linebacker, which is reasonable ... but sometimes you get what you pay for in a bad way.
While we don’t know exactly what is to become of Morrow, we do strongly suspect the other starting linebacker spot figures to go to Nakobe Dean. The 2022 third-round pick has the potential to take a step forward after not playing much as a rookie.
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