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Morris Eager To Begin New Chapter In Cowboys' "Family Environment"

IRVING, Texas – His decision to sign with the Cowboys ends a three-week wait for Alfred Morris to find a new home. Having made his choice in Dallas, it's a process Morris said he's glad to be done with.

"This whole free agency thing wasn't for me – I'm not a fan of it," Morris said Tuesday morning. "I'm just glad it's over and excited we were able to find a home and continue to live this dream."

Morris signed a two-year contract with the Cowboys on Tuesday. Given his pedigree as a two-time Pro Bowler, the terms of the deal – reported at roughly $3.5 million – sound like a relative bargain. Morris brings 4,713 career rushing yards and 29 touchdowns to a team that boasts one of the NFL's most talented offensive lines.

"I feel like, with the pieces they have here, it will definitely help propel us to that next level," Morris said. "Everybody who plays this game wants to win a Super Bowl, and I feel like they have a lot of pieces here – among other things – to get us to that point."

Signing a talented, affordable running back sounds like a familiar development. The Cowboys did the same thing with Darren McFadden last spring, and he rewarded their confidence with a 1,089-yard season last fall.

Morris will join McFadden and Lance Dunbar to form what is shaping up to be a talented backfield. But it feels like burying the lead just a bit – after all, Morris comes to the Cowboys after four successful seasons with the longtime rival Washington Redskins.

Considering his career tally of 710 rushing yards and six touchdowns in eight games against Dallas, Morris wasn't lost on the strangeness of the situation.

"It's going to be a weird process, going from one rival to the next," he said. "Some of the things I was able to accomplish against the Dallas Cowboys, now playing with them – it's going to be interesting."

Of course, it's easy to point out that the Redskins didn't make much of an effort to bring back their veteran running back. Since breaking onto the scene with 1,613 yards in 2012, Morris' output has dipped each season. Last year, he posted a career low with 202 carries for 751 yards and just one touchdown.

In an interview with 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday morning, Morris' agent, Sean Stellato, said that had plenty to do with the Redskins' new coaching staff under Jay Gruden. In 2015, Gruden's second year in charge of the team, Washington drafted Florida running back Matt Jones in the third round – a development that raised questions about Morris' future.

"I think the new regime had a different agenda with regard to him, drafting a running back in the third round," Stellato said. "I think it was frustrating, because the fact is that last year – we never spoke publicly, but I just think he never really had a chance to get in a rhythm."

The stats bear that out. Morris averaged 21, 17 and 16.5 carries per game in his first three seasons, but that average dropped to 12.6 in 2015.

"Mentally, when you're not knowing where your next carry is going to come, I think it can wear on you a little bit," Stellato said. "So I think he's looking for a fresh start."

The Cowboys will certainly offer him that chance. Dallas famously built its identity as a ground-and-pound team in 2014 with DeMarco Murray. Even without a viable passing game in 2015, they combined for 408 total carries and 1,888 rushing yards last year.

Joined by McFadden and Dunbar in 2016, Morris should have every opportunity to re-establish that rhythm from previous seasons. That wasn't lost on Stellato, who had every confidence in his client when asked about doubters.

"I would say they haven't even seen his best football yet," he said.

Only time will tell if that's the case. There's still a month until the offseason program, and the Cowboys won't get their first look at Morris in uniform until May.

For the time being, though, Morris said he's just glad to be part of the family.

"I can tell it's a family environment here," he said. "I'm really big on family – anything family-oriented, I want to be a part of. That's another reason why I thought this would be a good fit."


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