Redskins release Clinton Portis after seven memorable seasons in Washington

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 1, 2011; 2:28 AM

The Washington Redskins released running back Clinton Portis Monday, cutting ties with the second-leading rusher in franchise history and one of the few remaining veterans from the second Joe Gibbs era.

A nine-year veteran, Portis was coming off two straight seasons that were shortened by injuries and was owed $8.3 million for the coming season. Coach Mike Shanahan said Friday that the team didn't plan on retaining Portis if it meant paying him that much money.

In a statement issued by the team, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder praised Portis for his contributions over the last seven seasons, and wished him well.

"Clinton provided excitement from the very first time he touched the ball as a Redskin and we were lucky to witness every ounce of energy, effort and passion he has given ever since," Snyder said. "We have been through a lot both on and off of the field and we would like to wish him and his family the very best. He will always be a Redskin and go down as one of the franchise's all-time greats."

Portis's release didn't come as a surprise. Soon after he underwent season-ending surgery to repair a tear in a lower abdominal muscle, Portis said he suspected that his time in Washington might be drawing to an end. Monday, in an interview on WJFK (106.7 FM) with Washington Post columnist Mike Wise and host Holden Kushner, Portis said the move "was a decision that was best for the both of us." He said he looks forward to continuing his career with another team.

"In Washington, it's nothing left me to prove," said Portis, who in seven years as a Redskin rushed for 6,824 yards and 46 touchdowns. "It's not about the money for me at this stage in my career. It's about winning. I hope to help a team win rings, and that's what I'm looking forward to."

Portis hasn't played a full season since 2008, when he rushed for 1,487 yards and nine touchdowns. The following season, he suffered a concussion and missed the last eight games. This past season, Portis played in just five games. At 29, he has rushed for 9,923 yards, which ranks 26th on the NFL's career list, but objects to the idea that his days as a featured back are over.

"I think missing games the last two seasons provided me the opportunity to rest me up," Portis said. He later added: "I'll never do [a two-running back system]. I wouldn't adopt that mind-set."

Portis said the passion he now feels is something that he has been missing since Joe Gibbs retired from his second stint as Redskins coach after the 2007 season.

"I never seen nobody give up or with their head down with Coach Gibbs," Portis said. "As many close games as we played and came up short during his era, you can't say one time that we gave up. There was a passion and toughness amongst everybody on that field to fight until [time expired]."

Portis was Gibbs's first major acquisition during his coaching comeback, which began in 2004. Washington traded cornerback Champ Bailey to Denver to obtain Portis, who was coming off his second NFL season.

On his first carry in the season opener against Tampa Bay, Portis broke a run 64 yards for a touchdown.

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