- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 4, 2005

The Washington Redskins yesterday released return man Chad Morton, ending a disappointing two-year stay that began with an arbitrator controversially awarding him to the Redskins and coaches forecasting a wide-ranging role for him.

Morton, 28, became the Redskins’ first post-June 1 cut of 2005. More are expected as the club seeks to gain enough salary cap space to sign its draft picks. The departure of Morton wasn’t surprising: In two years, he scored just four touchdowns, touched the ball 63 times on offense and never made the adjustment to punt returner.

A torn ACL last season and the solid production of other return men made Morton expendable. Washington now expects to rely on Antonio Brown, James Thrash and Ladell Betts on kickoff and punt returns. The team also remains in the hunt for free agent cornerback R.W. McQuarters.

In March 2003, Morton signed a five-year, $8 million offer sheet with Washington as a restricted free agent. The New York Jets matched that offer sheet a week later, but on the recommendation of the NFL Management Council, they declined to match the clauses that voided out the deal’s final two seasons (2006 and 2007).

Arbitrator Richard Bloch eventually ruled that the Jets not only should have matched the void clauses, but they also should have put in writing that they would match the clauses if they eventually were deemed “principle terms.” Morton was awarded outright to the Redskins.

That year, he ranked among the NFL’s top 10 kickoff returners and saw a decent amount of action on coach Steve Spurrier’s offense. But Morton wasn’t performing well last season when he tore his ACL in late October. The new staff had nothing invested in him and found other options on the roster more intriguing.

By making the move after June 1, the Redskins saved $540,000 against the salary cap, which will come in handy in July when the club signs its draft picks. Morton will count $1 million in “dead money” against next year’s cap.

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