Steelers Add Ex-Jets QB With Brett Favre-Inspired ‘Gunslinger Mentality’

James Morgan

Quinn Harris/Getty Images James Morgan of the New York Jets looks to pass against the Green Bay Packers during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 21, 2021.

On Monday the Pittsburgh Steelers added former New York Jets quarterback James Morgan to the practice squad, a direct result of starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being on the Reserve/COVID-19 list.

Morgan, 24, stands 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds and hails from Green Bay, Wisconsin. That helps explain how he grew up idolizing Packers legend Brett Favre, and why he has long-since tried to emulate what he refers to as Favre’s “gunslinger mentality.”

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Thus far, Morgan hasn’t had much of an opportunity to showcase his biggest strength—his strong arm—at the NFL level. He was selected by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, but never appeared in a regular-season game with New York. In fact, he was released as part of the team’s final round of roster cuts on August 31, 2021, but not before he appeared in three preseason games, where he completed 19 of 35 passes for 208 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Two days after he was released, Carolina signed Morgan to its practice squad, where he spent the first nine weeks of the season. But the Panthers waived him this past Friday (after bringing back Cam Newton), giving the Steelers the chance to take a closer look at a quarterback who was regularly lauded for his “arm talent” in pre-draft profiles, even as his decision-making and touch were questioned.

James Morgan Starred for the Florida International Panthers

Looking back further one can see that Morgan started his college career at Bowling Green (2015-17) but then transferred to Florida International University (FIU) for his final two seasons of college eligibility. It was during the first of his two seasons at FIU where he excelled in particular, earning Conference-USA Newcomer of the Year honors by completing 65.3% of his passes for 2,727 yards, with 26 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions. He also led the Panthers to a school-record nine victories.

No word yet on what jersey number Morgan will wear for the Steelers, though No. 4 is available, and he wore that number while with the Jets. Regardless, he will be the fourth-string quarterback, serving as an insurance policy in case either Mason Rudolph or third-string QB Dwayne Haskins are unavailable to play in the immediate future.

The Steelers Released Isaiah Mack to Make Room For Morgan

To make room on the practice squad for James Morgan, the Steelers waived defensive tackle Isaiah Mack, who was inked by the team on October 12, 2021.

Mack entered the NFL in 2019, signing with the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He has appeared in 21 NFL games, with all but two of those coming with the Titans.

On Monday, the Steelers also placed All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, as per Brooke Pryor of ESPN. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Fitzpatrick has tested positive for the virus, making it unlikely that he will be available for Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

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