In an effort to enhance their receiving corps following the release of Lance Moore, the New Orleans Saints agreed to terms with Wide Receiver Joe Morgan on Tuesday. Morgan has spent his three professional seasons as a Saint, but missed all of 2013 with a serious knee injury. The deal is for one season.
Morgan was one of a hanfdul of Saints who appeared headed for restricted free agency only to not be tendered by New Orleans. The Saints end up with somewhat of a bargain on paper, as Morgan would have commanded a base salary of approximately $1.4 million had he been tendered. While terms of the deal are undisclosed, it is believed Morgan's 2014 salary will be much closer to the league minimum as he looks to prove his fitness having suffered a torn ACL last summer during training camp. Morgan also missed what would have been his rookie season in 2011 with a separate knee issue. Joe Morgan re-signs with the Saints.
Morgan, one of many undrafted free agents to earn a roster spot with the Saints in recent years, emerged as one of the bright spots for New Orleans during the bounty scandal-ridden 2012 season. He caught just 10 passes but tallied 379 yards with an eye-popping 37.9 yards-per-catch. Morgan scored three times, with one of his signature plays coming in a September game at Green Bay. Morgan hauled in an 80 yard bomb from Drew Brees and showed his ability to stretch a defense with his speed and seperation skills. He was slated to play a bigger role in 2013 following the departure of Devery Henderson, but his latest knee injury put an end to his season before it began.
With Moore gone and Robert Meachem's future still unclear, Morgan will have yet another chance to build on his 2012 season should he stay healthy. With Marques Colston and Kenny Stills presumably locked into the 'X' and 'Z' positions, Morgan will have a strong chance to stake his claim for the all-important slot role. Under Sean Payton, the Saints have carried as many as six or seven receivers on their active roster during the season, so there will be no shortage of competition. Morgan will have his knowledge of the system and past chemistry with Brees to build on, but the biggest question mark will be his health.
The New Orleans Saints sure hope that Joe Morgan can return to his 2012 form. The team will need a playmaker to operate in the slot, and a healthy Morgan fits the bill. After visiting Kansas City, he ultimately ended up back in New Orleans with the chance to take the next step in his career. Morgan, who will turn 26 next week, could be exactly the kind of value signing the Saints hope to capitalize on in between the higher profile deals involving Jairus Byrd and Zach Strief.