Oakland Raiders Gain Flexibility, Draft Pick with Louis Murphy Trade

Christopher HansenContributor IJanuary 18, 2017

Jan 1, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy (18) lines up for a play against the San Diego Chargers during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. San Diego defeated Oakland 38-26. Mandatory Credit: Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE
Jason O. Watson-US PRESSWIRE

As first reported by Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the Raiders have traded receiver Louis Murphy to the Carolina Panthers.

It marks the second trade this season between the two clubs, as the Raiders sent offensive tackle Bruce Campbell to Carolina earlier in the offseason for veteran running back Mike Goodson.

The Raiders gain flexibility, cap space and what is presumed to be a conditional late-round draft pick for Murphy. The team confirmed the trade but did not disclose the draft-pick compensation.

Murphy's departure will mean a more robust competition between several undrafted rookie receivers for the last couple of roster spots in Oakland.

According to Henry Wofford of CSN Bay Area via Twitter, Murphy was unhappy in Oakland and wanted out. Coupled with Murphy clearly on the roster bubble, it only made sense for the Raiders to move him for a late-round pick.

For the Raiders, they gain a lot of roster and positional flexibility without Murphy.

Rookie Juron Criner should move up the depth chart, and undrafted free agent Rod Streater should have an easier time making the roster. If the Raiders keep six wideouts, it could open the door for another undrafted rookie to make the 53-man roster.

Among the youngsters with an increased chance of making the team due to the trade of Murphy are rookies Duke Calhoun, Derek Carrier, Brandon Carswell, Thomas Mayo and Travionte Session, and second-year man Eddie McGee, who spent last season on the Raiders practice squad.

McGee was an offseason favorite to make the roster after he was spotted catching passes from Carson Palmer in Southern California this winter with Terrell Owens and his teammates, Darrius Heyward-Bey and David Ausberry. The drafting of Criner and the subsequent addition of so many undrafted receivers put a dent in McGee's chances, but he could become a front-runner for the final spot once again.

The other option for the Raiders would be to keep five receivers instead of six and trying to stick one of the aforementioned undrafted rookies on the practice squad. That allows the squad flexibility to keep an extra running back, tight end or defensive back.

Once in serious cap trouble, the Raiders also saved $1.26 million against the cap with the trade, according to Spotrac.com. Murphy's total contract was $1.372 million, but the remaining signing bonus peroration of $112,000 will count against the Raiders' cap this season.

Oakland now has close to $6 million in salary cap space, which is more than enough to sign the two undrafted rookies, Criner and Tony Bergstrom, and potentially add a couple veteran FAs as the team sees fit.

Among the potential free agents who could help the Raiders are running back Cedric Benson, linebackers E.J. Henderson and Gary Brackett and tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. Another potential option would be troubled cornerback Aaron Berry, recently released by the Lions after his second arrest this offseason.

Berry played reasonably well for the Lions last season and was expected to start this year. ProFootballFocus gave Berry a positive grade, and he ranked 25th in their 2011 rankings.

The legal issues could be a stumbling block, but Berry would come cheap, and the Raiders have two veteran cornerbacks and two young corners with strong characters to help guide the troubled Berry. Overall, the character and leadership in Oakland are far superior to that in Detroit, and that could help Berry get back on track.

It's a win-win for both the receiver-needy Panthers and the receiver-rich, cash-poor Raiders.

Oakland frees up additional cap space and roster flexibility, and Carolina gains a receiver who thrived in the spread offense. Murphy certainly has the talent, but he was unable to maintain health last season and is likely unhappy with being pushed down the depth chart by a younger player after being the team's leading receiver two seasons ago.