Dolphins retain backup tailback Morris for one year

With the availability of Ricky Williams still uncertain, the Miami Dolphins have strengthened the backup tailback spot, reaching agreement with dependable six-year veteran Sammy Morris on a one-year contract to return to the team.

Morris, 29, is a proven backup and provides experience and insurance behind second-year starter Ronnie Brown. Financial details of the one-year contract that Morris will sign were not immediately available.

Amid reports that he violated the NFL substance abuse policy for at least a fourth time, Williams faces a potential year-long suspension. Williams has appealed the test, and an arbitrator will hear his case on April 10. Unless Williams is successful in his appeal, the Dolphins will be without their top backup tailback from 2005.

Two weeks ago, the team re-signed Travis Minor, who has served as the backup and a third-down tailback at times, but whose role for 2006 figures to be primarily as a special teams contributor.

In Morris, the Dolphins are retaining a versatile player, one who can fill in at tailback and even at fullback, and who will play special teams, as well. In fact, Morris was the Dolphins' leading special teams tackler in 2005.

Miami explored other alternatives, including Green Bay backup Najeh Davenport, as potential backups to Brown, but didn't sign any. Morris drew interest from a few other teams, and visited with Seattle officials, but decided the opportunity in Miami was probably a better one for him.

Only two years ago, when Williams abruptly retired, Morris stepped into the starting lineup for eight games, and recorded career bests in carries (132), rushing yards (523) and touchdowns (six). For his career, the former Texas Tech star has 1,069 yards and 13 touchdowns on 282 carries, and 91 receptions for 630 yards.

A fifth-round choice of the Bills in the 2000 draft, Morris played four years in Buffalo before signing with the Dolphins in 2004.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.