Longtime Ravens long snapper and pending free agent Morgan Cox, who was recently informed by the club that it would not re-sign him this offseason, says he still loves the organization and is “incredibly proud” of what he accomplished in Baltimore, but he admitted to being taken aback by the team moving in another direction after he earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2020.
The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Cox took over as the long snapper for Matt Katula after the 2009 season and went on to play in 165 regular-season games for the Ravens, achieving the relative anonymity long snappers desire as the trigger man on punt and field-goal units. He eventually formed the “Wolfpack” with punter Sam Koch and kicker Justin Tucker, helping each rise to the top of his respective trade.
Cox earned four Pro Bowl nods and a Super Bowl ring for his efforts in Baltimore. Would he have taken this run had he been offered it back in 2010?
“I would’ve taken it every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” Cox said on Glenn Clark Radio Jan. 26. “What we’ve done in the 11 years, I’m incredibly proud of – not the individual stuff so much as I am proud to have been a part of the first nine years of Justin’s career and done what we did to hit all the important field goals. Not just the high percentage that he has – the highest percentage the NFL’s ever seen – but just all the game-winning kicks, winning games.
“I’m going to miss the locker room. I’m going to miss those guys. On Day One, I could’ve never have scripted this. I’m super proud of my time there in Baltimore and will always cherish it and will always come back, too. I’ve been telling people, ‘I’m not dying or anything.’ I’m perfectly healthy and still love the organization.”
Opting to not re-sign Cox won’t be the first difficult decision the Ravens have to make this offseason. The salary cap will go down because of the loss of revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Ravens anticipate having between $15 million and $20 million in cap room this offseason. Other pending free agents include edge rushers Matthew Judon, Yannick Ngakoue and Tyus Bowser.
Cox just completed a five-year, $5.6 million deal, and Baltimore can save some money by going with a younger long snapper in Nick Moore. The Ravens made Moore one of their four weekly practice-squad protections throughout the season in part so they wouldn’t have to scramble for a long snapper if Cox was ever forced to go on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Now, the 28-year-old Moore will get first crack at the job in 2021.
Cox, however, felt he had the best season of his career in 2020 and was surprised after being told the team was moving in another direction.
“I’d be lying to say if I didn’t say, ‘What the eff?’ at some point in this thing … but I cite everything that we’ve done,” Cox said. “I made up my mind a long time ago — not just a week ago or anything, a long time ago — that what we’ve done in Baltimore for the last 11 years for my career and 15 for Sam, that no matter how it ended, I was going to be proud of what we had done and have absolutely nothing but love for this organization.”
Cox, 34, has no intention of retiring, and any team seeking to improve its special teams units will almost certainly look at Cox as a possible candidate to help it do just that. With the help of Cox, Tucker has made about 90.7 percent of his regular-season kicks – the top mark ever among qualified kickers – and Koch has revolutionized punting.
Negotiations between clubs and those representing unrestricted free agents can begin March 15. Players can formally agree to deals after the start of the new league year March 17.
“I’ve still got a lot of tread on the tires. I’m looking forward to my next opportunity,” Cox said. “… I feel like I’m at the top of my game. Last season was probably my best season to date. I’m going to look back on 2020 as my best season, to be honest with you. As tough as it is to leave, I’m excited for the next opportunity to see what I can do with another club and just see how I can contribute.”
Cox chimed in on some other topics, including …
On his favorite moment as a Raven aside from the obvious ones:
“I would say one somewhat recent incident that comes to mind was last year when we played San Francisco in the cold, windy rain in M&T. It was a tough game, close matchup and everything. We got an opportunity to hit a game-winning field goal. I ran down and grabbed the ball for Justin. After the game, we were still thawing out but we ended up FaceTiming each other that night, and it just so happened that [Tucker, Koch, I] had a glass of red wine in hand and we were just kind of decompressing from the game. There are plenty of moments on the field, but there are even more off the field that I’m going to look back on and cherish.
On the joke he used to pull on Tucker:
“He knows that he can make it from anywhere on the field – quite literally anywhere. But at the same time, Justin’s such a funny guy once you get to know him. You know how self-aware he is at the same time. I love his confidence and I feed into it. The camera’s never really caught it, but I would grab some grass off the ground and hand it to him after a game-winning kick or a really big kick or something like that. ‘Hey, you look famished. You need something to eat. Go ahead.’ I stole that from one of our guys at the facility. Kevin Wilkins is one of our video guys. He used to do that to Justin occasionally, so I stole it from him and started to do it on some of his bigger kicks.”
On Sam Koch, a card-carrying member of the American Cornhole Organization:
“Sam’s a quiet assassin when it comes to that. He would bait some young guys into betting him on it – burgers or something like that, never money. Somebody would always fall for it. He’d even spot them 20 points. You go to 21. He’d spot them 20 points. All you have to do is score one point. That’s all you’ve got to do. And so they’re like, ‘Oh, yeah, I can score one point.’ Little do they know that he’s going to dunk it every time.
For more from Cox, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox