In a decision that stunned even the Redskins, arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled that New York did not match the offer sheet to Chad Morton and awarded him to Washington.
"By forwarding a copy of its proposed player contract, sans the voidability option, the (Jets) manifested its intention not to be bound by that very meaningful element of the Offer Sheet," Bloch wrote of his decision. "However willing the (Jets) may have been to subsequently abide by the voidability clause if so required, the unavoidable conclusion is that, at that critical juncture of the carefully documented contract formation stage, there was no match."
That was good news for Washington, which surrendered a fifth-round pick to the Jets as compensation. The Redskins now have one pick in rounds two and three and another two choices in the seventh.
Jackson, who coached Morton for three seasons at USC, says he expects to use him offensively. That was important to Morton, who wants to be more than just a returner. His agent, Leigh Steinberg, told people in New York that Washington had promised him 20 offensive touches a game.
That number seems high for an unproven back. But Jackson agrees he will be used on offense.
In college, Morton, a running back, rushed for 2,511 yards and caught 38 passes in his four years. Jackson even had him split wide on occasion, something he will potentially do for the Redskins. He even played cornerback and receiver at USC and sprinted for three seasons for the Trojans' track team.
More than anything, though, the Redskins like his jitterbug running style, saying it's a good fit for this offense, which is designed to spread the field and create running lanes. And that's one reason they'll use him offensively.
''There's no limitation on his ability to play,'' Jackson said. ''He's done it all. The Chad I know and have studied on tape can contribute to any team in any system. There are so many things he can do. That's what makes it exciting to have him on the team.''
No one was more excited than special teams coach Mike Stock, tired of the headaches presented by the punt return unit. The Redskins averaged 10.3 yards per punt return, but three returns accounted for 37 percent of their total yardage. Champ Bailey ended the season as a returner, but his decision making was poor.
''I never imagined there was a glimmer of hope this would happen,'' Stock said. ''This is like winning the lottery.''
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