Latavius Murray, Vikings Agree to Contract After 4 Seasons with Raiders

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2017

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Latavius Murray #28 of the Oakland Raiders carries the ball against the Houston Texans in the AFC Wild Card game at NRG Stadium on January 7, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings announced Thursday they signed former Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported Murray signed a three-year deal worth "roughly" $15 million.

Murray later posted a statement on Instagram about his jersey number:

Murray, 27, established himself as a solid bell cow over the past two seasons, rushing for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns in 2015 and 788 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. He also caught a combined 74 passes for 496 yards over those campaigns.

But the Raiders have DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard waiting in the wings, and Murray has averaged just 4.0 yards per carry since 2015 despite running behind one of the best offensive lines in football. It became obvious that, while Murray was an important part of Oakland's offense, he wasn't a vital pillar for the team to build around.

Still, that he departed is a bit surprising. Quarterback Derek Carr certainly wanted him back.

"We all know that we want him back," Carr said after the season, per Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com. "We love him. He's one of my best friends in this whole world. Not just because he can run the ball, but because he can pick up blitzes."

Murray also seemed inclined to stay.

"I don't think I ever want to be a guy that bounces around or anything like that," he told Gutierrez. "I would love to finish my career here. I think it says a lot for any player who stays in one place. I would love to finish what I started, but I know how things could go."

Things indeed went that way, as Murray is headed elsewhere. His ability to pick up the blitz and break off big runs given his size and speed in the open field will make him a dangerous weapon for Minnesota.

Still, there are questions about whether Murray is ultimately a feature back. He appeared to take a step in that direction in 2016, and the Vikings will bank on his remaining healthy and continuing to evolve as a threat at the position.

For the Vikings, Murray will have to seize the reins of the backfield, with superstar running back Adrian Peterson a free agent. But the Vikings will have solid depth behind Murray, with part-time starter Jerick McKinnon and potentially Matt Asiata (also a free agent) capable of playing big roles in the offense.

The Vikings could also add a running back in the draft.

Murray certainly isn't a substitute for Peterson. Even past his prime, Peterson was one of the most dynamic runners in the game. But Murray will be leaned on heavily to carry the load and re-energize a stagnant rushing attack.