We continue our countdown of the Seahawks' pending free agents with linebacker Mike Morgan.
Our free agent countdown continues with a key special teams player and valued backup — linebacker Mike Morgan — who played for Pete Carroll at USC for four years and then was signed by Seattle as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and made the team.
Morgan has been a key part of the Seahawks ever since despite starting just three games in his career, having played in 66 games since making the team in 2011.
He has been a durable player who has been a steady backup, available for all but three games the last five years, and one of the players Carroll has often referred to as a “core’’ special teams player, usually active on all four of the key teams.
Here’s a closer look:
17, Linebacker Mike Morgan
2015 salary: $750,000 base and $250,000 in bonuses for a $1 million cap hit.
Role with Seahawks in 2015: Morgan backed up Bruce Irvin at strongside linebacker in 2015, starting the home games against the 49ers and Steelers at that spot, while also seeing regular action on most special teams, playing 284 special teams snaps, third most on the team.
Free agent outlook: Morgan seems like a low-risk player to bring back as a security blanket-type, able to fill a number of roles who also likely has a greater value to the Seahawks and to Carroll —for whom he has played every year but one that Carroll has coached since 2006 — than he would any other team or coach.
Morgan’s value could also be a little greater given the uncertainty at strongside linebacker, with Irvin almost a given not to be back and no clear replacement. Recall that when Bobby Wagner missed the home game against Carolina the Seahawks shifted things around to have K.J. Wright play in the middle and Kevin Pierre-Louis play the weakside spot. But that yielded mixed results, and when Bruce Irvin missed two games later in the season, the Seahawks had Morgan replace Irvin at strongside linebacker rather than move Wright there and put Pierre-Louis on the weakside, an alignment many had long speculated the team might use.
The implication seemed to be that the team had decided that at least for now, it wasn’t worth moving things around to try to get Pierre-Louis on the field, and that they were just as comfortable with Morgan as one of the three linebackers as Pierre-Louis, who previously had been viewed as the presumptive heir apparent to Irvin. Whether that’s the case now seems unclear, and could make re-signing Morgan a bit more of a priority to assure depth at that spot, let alone his special teams value.
There are plenty of linebackers available in the draft and free agency and change is inevitable. But given how reliable Morgan has been through the years as a backup and on special teams, he seems like a player the team may want to have back in 2016.