Morris has a shot to solidify his roster spot in the absence of teammate Darren McFadden, who will likely miss most or all of training camp after undergoing surgery to address a fractured elbow, ESPN.com reports.
Morris presumably expected to push McFadden for the starting job after signing with Dallas in late March on a two-year, $3.5 million contract that has approximately $1.8 million in guarantees, including a $1 million signing bonus. While the cap-strapped Cowboys may have had some buyer's remorse once they drafted Ezekiel Elliott, it still seemed that the structure of Morris' contract all but assured the four-year veteran of a roster spot. With Elliott the presumed starter and McFadden now uncertain for Week 1, Morris will likely work with the second-team offense at the beginning of training camp, though he may have to hold off sixth-round rookie Darius Jackson, who put up elite marks in the 40-yard dash (sub-4.4), vertical jump (41 inches) and broad jump (133 inches) while checking in at 6-1, 220 pounds at his pro day. The Cowboys don't have a clear favorite for the backup work on passing downs, as Morris has just 47 career receptions and recently admitted that he's having a tough time learning the pass protections. Lance Dunbar (knee) would be an obvious choice if he were healthy, but he's still recovering from a torn ACL and MCL suffered in October.
There isn't really anything else for Morris to say, as his declining production and modest contract don't leave him in a position to complain or make demands. He was previously expected to compete with Darren McFadden for early-down work, but it now appears Ezekiel Elliott will serve as the lead back. As a likely backup with limited receiving skills, Morris has a difficult path to fantasy relevance. McFadden, or even sixth round pick Darius Jackson, may end up as the preferred handcuff for the Cowboys' prized rookie.
Coming off a disappointing final season in Washington, Morris found an ideal situation to re-establish himself, as the Cowboys have an excellent offensive line but an unimpressive group of running backs. That being said, Darren McFadden played well enough last season to get another crack at the starting job, and Lance Dunbar (knee) is tentatively expected to handle most of the passing-down work, when healthy. Morris will likely have to compete for his role, but if he's able to earn lead-back duties over McFadden, the situation is ripe for rushing production.
Morris saw his role somewhat reduced by the presence of rookie Matt Jones last season, resulting in his first campaign with under 1,000 rushing yards since entering the league in 2012. With the Redskins opting to move on from Morris, their division rival Cowboys have expressed interest in signing the rugged runner. Whether Morris' visit to Dallas results in anything more concrete remains to be seen, but it's worth noting the parties' mutual interest.
Washington Redskins President Bruce Allen suggested that Alfred Morris won't be offered a new contract before the free agency period begins, CSN Mid-Atlantic reports. "He's been incredibly productive for us," Allen said. "Free agency is going to be a great test for him. If he gets a great contract [elsewhere], we're going to applaud him. If not, we're going to see what happens with us."
Morris likely wants to test the open market, but his declining production and lack of receiving skills may ultimately lead to disappointment. While a return to Washington can't entirely be ruled out, it seems that the team is comfortable moving forward with a running back group led by Matt Jones and pass-catching specialist Chris Thompson.
|P1||8/13/16||@ LAR||8:00 pm|
|P3||8/25/16||@ SEA||10:00 pm|
|2||9/18/16||@ WAS||1:00 pm|
|4||10/2/16||@ SF||4:25 pm|
|6||10/16/16||@ GB||4:25 pm|
|Bye: Week 7|
|9||11/6/16||@ CLE||1:00 pm|
|10||11/13/16||@ PIT||4:25 pm|
|13||12/1/16||@ MIN||8:25 pm|
|14||12/11/16||@ NYG||8:30 pm|
|17||1/1/17||@ PHI||1:00 pm|
|Year||Team||G||Fum||Lost||Fum Forced||Own Rec||Opp Rec||Yds||Tot Rec||TD|