When the Las Vegas Raiders placed a second-round tender on linebacker Nicholas Morrow, that felt shocking. For a team that needed to completely reconstruct their linebacker group, placing such a high tender appears rather out of place. However, Mayock and Gruden don’t make moves without any semblance of a plausible plan. With that, the team invested a one-year, 3.2 million dollar deal for Morrow.
For the 2020 season, the Raiders will pay Morrow 3.2 million dollars. Now, that won’t break the bank. Plus, the one-year aspect allows the team to escape at the end of the season. If this were the NBA, Morrow’s deal lines up as a veteran minimum. People will catch sticker shock at the cost, but Morrow doesn’t hurt.
Over the years, Morrow worked his way up from being an undrafted afterthought from Greenville University. Yes, tiny Greenville University, all of 932 students, produced an NFL linebacker. During his first two seasons, Morrow enjoyed 968 combined snaps, starting 10 of 32 games. Last season, Morrow saw 728 defensive snaps within Paul Guenther’s defense. With more snaps, and eight starts, Morrow filled out the stat sheet. However, not all of his stats painted his season as positive. For instance, opponents completed 71.4 percent of their passes, scoring twice. Notwithstanding an interception versus the Bears, Morrow struggled in coverage.
Despite his speed, Morrow appeared a bit late in covering targets. Whether it’s a timing hitch, late vision, or slower processing, Morrow could not consistently get a jump on the route. Instead of reading, Morrow appeared to react. Meanwhile, while blitzing, his speed did not help. A converted safety, Morrow didn’t close well on the quarterback. The Raiders sent Morrow on thirty-three blitzes, four QB knockdowns, and zero sacks. Meanwhile, the stat that should sound an alarm are the ten missed tackles. Opponents would run through attempts, jetting past Morrow.
Glimmer of Hope
The Raiders, whether Rich Bisaccia or Guenther truly appreciate Morrow athleticism. For Bisacccia, Morrow brings that element to special teams. Now, that may now attract much of any attention. Yet, coverage teams help the defense. In return, Paul Guenther’s defense would benefit from special teams improvement. On top of that, Morrow, playing in front of a deeper, more talented line should afford him the luxury of cleaner looks. Additionally, playing next to free-agent signings Nick Kwiatkoski and Cory Littleton will automatically upgrade the situation.
This spring, the Las Vegas Raiders thought enough of him to drop a second-round tender. As a result, the team will use him within the confines of their defense and special teams. With high turnover, the Raiders needed a veteran with knowledge of the defense. Granted, Morrow doesn’t turn twenty-five until July. However, his versatility and scheme-specific knowledge should help the Raiders, in the long run.