Morton Cut

When the Redskins acquired Chad Morton in a trade two years ago, then special teams coach Mike Stock couldn't stop smiling. Or shouting. Or salivating at what Morton could do for the Redskins. But it never happened.

Morton's impact was minimal, at best, and he battled injuries throughout his two seasons here. Today, the Redskins released Morton. This move will save $540,000 on the cap this year.

Washington ran out of reasons to keep Morton with Antonio Brown and Santana Moss on the roster to return punts. Brown can return kickoffs, too, along with Ladell Betts. James Thrash could perform those roles in a pinch and there's still a chance R.W. McQuarters will be signed. He, too, returns punts.

Betts is more than capable as a kickoff returner, with a straight-ahead style compared to Morton's slashing ways.

Morton had a lot of sizzle with the ball. As a third-down back he was hard for linebackers to cover because of his shiftiness. When the Redskins could let him clear the first wave and then dump the ball to him, Morton was highly effective. That didn't happen often enough and Morton, though willing, was not a good blocker in pass protection because of his size.

Morton averaged 9.9 yards per punt return his first season. That year, he said a sprained ankle made it difficult for him to cut and, he said, the Redskins rarely worked on their punt returns in practice. That made it tough on him because, he said, he had not returned punts in New York and was still finding his comfort level.

But they worked on it in practice this past fall and he averaged only 6.2 yards this past season. On kick returns, he averaged 23.4 in 2003, returning one for a touchdown, and 22.4 in '04.

Morton is the second of the four Jetskins to leave Washington this offseason. Receiver Laveranues Coles was traded back to the Jets for Santana Moss. That leaves guard Randy Thomas and kicker John Hall as the only two acquired in the 2003 offseason. Hall will have a battle with Jeff Chandler this summer, but Thomas is entrenched at his spot.


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