With free agency and an uncertain future approaching, Redskins running back Alfred Morris shared some thoughts on social media Saturday night, thanking the Redskins and their fans for the past four seasons on his Instagram account.
Morris, the fifth-leading rusher in team history, burst onto the scene as an unheralded sixth-rounder out of Florida Atlantic, selected with a draft pick acquired from the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for Donovan McNabb. As a rookie, Morris eased the pain of having to unload McNabb at a low cost by breaking the Redskins’ single-season rushing record with 1,613 yards on the way to the team’s first NFC East title in 13 years.
After running for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns under the tutelage of head coach Mike Shanahan, Morris’s role diminished under head coach Jay Gruden. Morris barely touched 1,000 yards in 2014 and compiled his worst statistical season in 2015. The team drafted Matt Jones to split carries with Morris, who set career-lows in carries (202), yards (751) and yards-per-carry (3.7), rushing for 100 yards just twice (Weeks 1 and 17) last season.
The NFL’s new league year begins Wednesday, which means “Thoroughbred Fred” will likely be looking for a new home. The Post’s Mike Jones reported this week that Morris and the team began discussions about retaining his services but no offer has yet been made.
At February’s NFL Combine, Gruden didn’t eliminate the possibility of re-signing Morris but didn’t seem terribly concerned that the 27-year-old would leave. It appears that Morris, who has already provided arguably the best value on any contract in Redskins history, would have to accept coming back at a discounted rate.
“There’s not one negative thing I can say about Alfred Morris as a person and as a player,” Gruden said. “We wish him well if we don’t get [a new contract] done, but if we do get him done we’ll welcome him back with open arms.”
Whether Morris was chatting with FedEx Field ushers before games, driving around in his 1991 Mazda 626 or running for 200 yards and three touchdowns against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17 to clinch that 2012 division title, the ultimate underdog will always be remembered as a soft-spoken fan favorite with a subtle demeanor, team-first attitude and punishing running style.
Even if Morris never plays another down for the Redskins, his reputation has already been cemented in burgundy and gold lore.