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Friday, March 9, 2012
Kirk Morrison gets 2-year deal

Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- After getting limited opportunities to prove himself with the Buffalo Bills last season, veteran linebacker Kirk Morrison is pleased to have earned a second chance with the team.

"I look at it as a new beginning for me," Morrison said Friday, shortly after agreeing to a two-year contract potentially worth more than $4 million to re-sign with the Bills. "I'm excited to go out there and show what I can do."

Morrison will earn more than $2 million a season should he meet incentive clauses included in the contract, a person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the team did not divulge the terms in announcing the deal.

The agreement comes before the seven-year veteran was eligible to enter free agency next week. And it's the latest move by a team eager to keep its players, coming on the heels of Buffalo re-signing receiver Stevie Johnson and tight end Scott Chandler earlier in the week.

A six-year starter before signing with Buffalo in late August, Morrison saw limited playing time, and finished with just seven tackles and one sack in 14 games.

"For them to lock me up before free agency, I'm honored for the opportunity," said Morrison, who maintained his home in Buffalo. "I'm honored they believed in me."

The Bills regard Morrison as a valuable role player, who has the experience and versatility to play any of the three linebacker positions on a young defense making the switch to a 4-3 style under newly promoted coordinator Dave Wannstedt.

"We feel like he's a good fit," Wannstedt said. "He's played the 4-3 most of his career. He'll be able to adjust both mentally and physically to the new system and make an immediate impact."

Morrison enjoyed working with Wannstedt, who coached the team's outside linebackers last year. And after getting off to a late start in Buffalo, he is looking forward to having a full offseason to learn the defense and become comfortable with his role.

Morrison broke into the NFL in 2005, when he was drafted by Oakland in the third round out of San Diego State. He then played the 2010 season in Jacksonville.

He was credited with more than 100 tackles in each of his first six seasons, while starting all but one game. The Bills signed him because of his experience, and to serve as a backup to linebacker Nick Barnett, who proved durable in playing a majority of the snaps last season.

"I'm very eager. I don't think you guys ... understand that last year was not indicative of who I am as a football player," Morrison said, on a conference call. "I have a lot of football left."