The Kansas City Chiefs, who passed up the chance last summer to sign a tubby Bam Morris, traded with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday for the troubled but trimmed-down running back.
The Chiefs were believed to have given the Bears a fifth- or sixth-round draft pick, and signed Morris through 2000.
"He's about 25 pounds lighter and he's had the benefit of being involved in activity in a football environment for some length of time," Chiefs coach Marty Schottenheimer said.
Morris, who rushed for 836 yards as a rookie for Pittsburgh in 1994, spent 89 days in jail in Texas this year for possession of six pounds of marijuana.
He had spent the past two seasons in Baltimore and missed four games each year for violations of the league's substance abuse policy.
"This trade is contingent on Bam's performance both on and off the field," Chiefs president and general manager Carl Peterson said. "It's been well chronicled that he has had some off-the-field problems. Believe me, we took a lot of time and effort and input into making this decision. We wouldn't make it if we didn't feel we had the people here who can assist Bam with his problems off the field."
The Chiefs, looking to fill a void at running back with the departure of Greg Hill and the retirement of Marcus Allen, had worked out Morris during training camp and said he had written Schottenheimer a "heart-felt letter."
After the Chiefs decided not to sign him, he went to the Bears, who needed somebody while first-round draft pick Curtis Enis was holding out.
The Chiefs said Morris weighs about 248 pounds and would be used as a backup to Donnell Bennett, who had a miserable game in Sunday's 40-10 loss at New England, fumbling once and gaining only six yards in six carries.
Morris rushed for 559 yards in 1995 and 737 i1996.
His agent, Terry Lavenstein, said the Chiefs had given Morris a "significant" increase from the roughly $400,000 the Bears were paying him.
"Luckily, we are now in a position to go to the playoffs, to compete for a job, to get significant playing time once he learns the system," Lavenstein said. "And he's with one of the quality teams in the NFL. It's a class organization. What more could a player ask for? I think this is a perfect match."
Morris carried 26 times for 68 yards for the Bears during the exhibition season. But Enis came back and Morris carried only three times for eight yards. He was inactive for the last three games.
"Right now, our running game is featuring a guy who is a strong, powerful inside runner," Schottenheimer said. "We think that if we were to get into a situation where Donnell was injured, Bam's presence would give us a similar type runner and not put us in a situation where we would have to change the nature of the offense.
"Bam will understand the way we conduct ourselves around here in terms of preparation, work on the field, conduct off the field," Schottenheimer said. "I don't anticipate any problems."
The Chiefs also said they had waived defensive tackle Darius Holland and tight end Brian Roche.
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