Veteran RB Portis released by Redskins, who can't afford salary

WASHINGTON -- "Southeast Jerome" is officially gone for good. As well as "Dolla Bill" and "Sheriff Gonna Getcha."

Clinton Portis was released by the Washington Redskins on Monday, ending a charismatic and sometimes contentious seven-year stay that, for a while at least, made him the face of the franchise.

Injuries and money led to coach Mike Shanahan's decision. Portis had played in only 13 games over the last two seasons because of a severe concussion in 2009 and a torn groin muscle in 2010.

Portis was scheduled to make $8.3 million next season, and Shanahan made it clear at the NFL combine that the Redskins wouldn't keep the 29-year-old running back at that price.

"We're going to let him test the market," Shanahan said, "and see what's out there for him."

Portis told 106.7 The Fan that he was given a chance to restructure his contract, but he said it would be "hard to accept not being the go-guy."

"It was kind of a mutual decision," Portis said. "They could have sat and held on and played around. They gave me an opportunity to further my career and go somewhere where I can help."

Portis is 77 yards shy of 10,000 career rushing yards and leaves Washington 648 shy of one of his oft-stated goals -- Hall of Famer John Riggins' franchise record.

"If the record meant that much, I think I could stay in D.C. to get it," Portis said. "Although I wanted it, I don't think I wanted it bad enough to ... continue to endure the area to get it. If John Riggins is the only name you can say did more than me as a Redskins running back, that's great company to be in. And I'm OK with that."

Portis will be most remembered for his colorfully productive 2005 season, when he set a franchise single-season rushing record (1,516 yards) and led the team to its first playoff berth in six years while playing dress-up along the way. Every Thursday during the season's homestretch he would appear in costume, playing a wide range of characters that also included "Bro Sweets" and "Inspector Two-Two."

Portis is also one who freely speaks his mind, and that frequently got him into trouble over the years. He picked on his offensive line. He derisively called coach Jim Zorn a "genius." He said female reporters are naturally "going to want somebody" when they see undressed players in the locker room.

He even belittled Riggins, saying the local legend had it easier in the 1980s because it was "really not hard to be a great running back when you've got that talent all around you."

"I always spoke the truth," Portis said Monday, "and I think that's bigger to me than the rushing record or the touchdowns or anything else."

Portis was also profoundly affected by the death of Redskins safety and good friend Sean Taylor in 2007. Both played for the University of Miami.

"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," Redskins owner Dan Snyder said in a statement released by the team. "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."

Portis played in only five games in 2010 before the groin injury ended his season. He rushed for a career-low 227 yards on 54 carries with two touchdowns.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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