DeMarco Murray

Titans’ DeMarco Murray Ruled Out

The Titans will be without the services of DeMarco Murray when they face the Patriots on Saturday. The running back was unable to practice on Wednesday and has been ruled out for the divisional round showdown, the team announced. DeMarco Murray

Without Murray, the Titans will once again center their running game around Derrick Henry. The 23-year-old gained 191 yards from scrimmage against the Chiefs, including 156 yards rushing and a touchdown off of 23 carries.

That was his big coming out party,” Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan said last week. “If he runs like that, we’re going to be all right.”

If Henry does not offer up a repeat performance, it could be a rough afternoon for Tennessee. The Patriots are currently favored by 13.5 points.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Broncos, Talib, Jaguars, Lee

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib wants to finish his career with the Broncos, but he also knows that a return might not be in the cards.

If I wasn’t [returning], it wouldn’t be the most surprising thing in the world,” Talib said on Denver’s Altitude 950 (transcription via Nicki Jhabvala of The Denver Post). “You have three corners making big money and that’s rare to have. I had conversations with our staff during our exit meetings and stuff, so it’s kind of up in the air. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m still here. Just put it like this: I had good conversations with [head coach] Vance [Joseph], with [defensive coordinator] Joe Woods. I mean, things change. But there’s a chance I will be back.”

Talib, 31, has two years left on the five-year deal he signed with the Broncos in 2014. He’s slated to carry a cap hit of $12MM in 2018, but the team can release him and carry just $1MM in dead money. If Talib wants to stay in Denver, he’ll probably have to take a pay cut to make it happen. The Broncos can’t afford to squander any of their cap room, particularly with Bradley Roby’s salary increasing from ~$1MM to $8.5MM next season.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee did not practice on Wednesday and may not practice this week. However, the belief is that he will be able to take the field against the Bills this weekend, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Lee had the most receptions of any Jags receiver this year (56) and finished second in receiving yards (702). If Lee cannot go, Jacksonville will have to lean a bit more heavily on Allen Hurns, Dede Westbrook, and Keelan Cole.
  • Meanwhile, Titans running back DeMarco Murray has been ruled out of Saturday’s Wild Card game against the Chiefs (Twitter link via Rapoport). As a result, Derrick Henry will see a larger share of carries.
  • The Giants‘ interview with Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia is scheduled for Friday, Rapoport tweets.
  • The Cardinals will have their interview with Patricia on Saturday, Rapoport hears. Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores is set to interview on the same day.
  • The Lions will get to talk with Patricia over the weekend, according to Rapoport.

DeMarco Murray Out For Week 17

DeMarco Murray is dealing with a badly sprained knee and will not be available in the Titans’ crucial Week 17 contest, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

Tennessee’s starting running back is dealing with the most severe of MCL tears, and while he initially expressed optimism he could play through it against the Jaguars, the Titans are going to rest him Sunday. The Titans, however, will not place Murray on IR, Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets.

The Titans will lean on Derrick Henry for ground support in hopes of advancing to their first AFC playoff bracket in nine years. Henry’s been a bigger part of the offense in his second season than he was in 2016, and Murray’s numbers have declined as well. But the team refusing to place its starting back on IR indicates it is at least considering a healthy Murray-Henry setup taking the field in a playoff game.

Murray suffered the knee injury in Week 16. He will finish his second Titans season with more than 600 fewer rushing yards (659) than he amassed last year in a Pro Bowl campaign. The seventh-year runner’s yards-per-carry figure (3.6) is also nearly a yard off his ’16 pace.

Tennessee faces a win-and-in scenario against a Jaguars team that is already locked into the AFC’s No. 3 seed, so prospects are encouraging for the Titans to end that lengthy playoff drought. Henry is averaging 4.7 yards per tote and leads the team with 693 rushing yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Murray Suffered Third Degree MCL Tear

An MRI revealed that Titans running back DeMarco Murray has a third degree MCL tear, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). The veteran back believes he can play through the injury with the Titans aiming for a playoff spot. DeMarco Murray

This is a change from Schefter original report on Sunday night that Murray sprained his MCL in the Week 16 tilt with the Rams. Murray’s status is still up in the air, with head coach Mike Mularkey saying on Sunday night the back was day-to-day and commenting on his toughness.

The Titans currently own the final wildcard spot in the AFC with an 8-7 record and just need a win vs. the Jaguars, or losses from both the Chargers and Bill, to get into the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Though in front for the final spot, Tennessee has dropped three consecutive games.

If Murray was to be held out of action, 2016 second-round pick Derrick Henry would assume the role of lead back. Henry has been the better back, out-gaining Murray by 34 yards on 36 fewer carries.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

DeMarco Murray May Not Play In Week 17

The Titans dropped their third game in a row when they fell late to the Rams in Week 16. However, that was not the only bad news that came from their defeat. Starting running back DeMarco Murray was helped off the field after suffering a knee injury in the fourth quarter of the contest, according to the team’s official website.

DeMarco Murray

While there was no immediate diagnosis, Titans head coach Mike Mularkey did not like what he saw when Murray went down.

“We’re going to get an MRI on him and see the extent of it,” Mularkey said. “Didn’t look good. He’s a pretty tough guy, watched him walk off, and it didn’t look good.”

Murray will be 30 years old next month and has not looked as dynamic as he did a season ago. The veteran back has averaged just 3.6 yards per carry in 2017, which is a notable step down from his 4.4 yards per carry mark from last year.

If the injury turns out to be as bad as it appeared on the field, Tennessee would lean heavily on backup running back Derrick Henry to help carry them to the postseason.

The 23-year-old has clearly been the more effective back this season and has seen his workload increase in his second full year in the NFL. Henry has totaled double-digit carries seven times in 2017, but would be in-line for at least 20 touches should Murray be forced to sit.

He’ll, obviously, he’ll get a bigger load,” Mularkey said. “It’s good for him, I’m glad we have him. That’s what he’s here for, and (David) Fluellen as well. And again, that’s me speaking right after the game. I’ve seen him before come back pretty strong. He’s about as tough a player we got.”

The Titans are still in a prime position punch their postseason ticket for the first time since the 2008-09 season. All Tennessee needs to do is beat a Jaguars team that could have nothing to play for should the Steelers win their game this afternoon. Nevertheless, the prospect of losing another playmaker for a franchise that has stumbled mightily towards the finish line is not an ideal situation entering the final week of the 2017 regular season.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Murray, Steelers, Hill

The Broncos are under .500 for the first time since October 2012 and have seen their aerial attack sputter this month. They are considering benching Trevor Siemian for Brock Osweiler, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Osweiler was once ahead of Siemian in Denver’s pecking order prior to departing as a free agent, starting seven games in relief of Peyton Manning in 2015, but has seen his stock plummet considerably in between Broncos stays. Siemian, though, threw three interceptions against the Chiefs and has now thrown 10 this season — as many as he did in 14 games in 2016. Paxton Lynch would be the more logical choice for a longer-term change but has only practiced three times thus far. Still, if the Broncos’ losing streak continues — and games against the Eagles and Patriots loom the next two weeks — it would stand to reason Lynch could see the field soon for the lengthy audition he’s yet to receive.

Here’s the latest from the AFC on trade deadline day.

  • DeMarco Murray has heard “rumblings” he could be traded, Ed Werder tweets. This would be an obviously interesting move given the Titans‘ placement in the AFC South and wild-card races and their affinity for ground success under Mike Mularkey. Murray has no guaranteed money left on his through-2019 deal. The Cowboys are reportedly calling about running backs after Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension was restored, and Werder notes Murray makes sense due to his All-Pro season for Dallas in 2014.
  • Martavis Bryant has been informed he’s going to be part of the Steelers‘ Week 10 game plan, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports, continuing to squelch the notion the mercurial pass-catcher could be traded today. The Steelers have said they are not trading the fourth-year wide receiver, one who has another season remaining on his rookie contract since it tolled while he was suspended. Fowler notes Pittsburgh could get blown away by an offer but doesn’t see a trade coming.
  • Steelers rookie cornerback Cameron Sutton returned to practice on Tuesday, the team announced. He remains on IR, and the Steelers have 21 days to activate the third-round pick. Pittsburgh has six cornerbacks on its active roster presently.
  • Jeremy Hill‘s contract year is not going especially well, and the Bengals running back made an agency switch, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). Hill will now be represented by Joel Segal and Greg Barnett, per Owczarski. The fourth-year ball-carrier has just 113 rushing yards on 37 carries. He profiles as a possible trade candidate due to Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard being signed long-term. Hill rushed for at least 790 yards in each of his first three NFL seasons, which would seemingly make him an intriguing free agent despite the role reduction this season.

Notable 2017 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2017 Pro Bowl rosters earlier tonight, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned tonight, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter links), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) can earn bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were preliminarily netted this evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Incentives

  • Raiders G Kelechi Osemele, $300K (link): Under general manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have employed what is often referred to as an “all cash” salary cap management system, wherein prorated signing bonuses are rarely used while base salary guarantees, roster bonuses, and — as evidenced by the number of Oakland players on this list — incentive clauses are heavily employed. Osemele, the league’s highest-paid interior offensive lineman, is signed through 2020 with cap charges north of $10MM in each season.
  • Colts P Pat McAfee, $250K (link): McAfee, who signed a five-year extension with the Colts in 2014, ranks third in the NFL in net punting average at 42.8 yards. The Indy special teams unit ranks fourth in the league in DVOA, while McAfee himself has been worth four points of field position on punts, third-best in the AFC.
  • Raiders S Reggie Nelson, $250K (link): Nelson sat on the free agent market until April, but has rewarded the Raiders for signing him by earning his second consecutive Pro Bowl season. The 33-year-old Nelson, who’s posted four interceptions after leading the NFL with eight picks in 2015, is in the middle of a two-year, $8.5MM deal.
  • Raiders T Donald Penn, $200K (link): Penn is the definition of stability, as the veteran left tackle hasn’t missed a game since becoming a starter during his rookie season in 2007. Penn signed a two-year, $11.9MM contract with the Raiders this spring, and is set to count $6.1MM against Oakland’s cap in 2017.
  • Raiders C Rodney Hudson, $100K (link): The third member of the Raiders’ offensive line to earn a Pro Bowl bonus, Hudson is the fourth-highest paid center in the league, earning $8.9MM annually. The No. 4 center in the NFL this year according to Pro Football Focus, Hudson is signed through the 2019 campaign.
  • Titans RB DeMarco Murray, $100K (link): After a putrid season in Philadelphia during which he barely topped 700 yards rushing, Murray has rebounded since being traded to the Titans, and is currently second in the league with 1.224 yards on the ground. He’s scored nine rushing touchdowns, and has added three more scores thorugh the air.

Escalators

  • Browns T Joe Thomas, $1.5MM 2017 roster bonus escalator (link): Thomas is due a roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year, and that bonus’ value has now increased from $1MM to $2.5MM. That bonus could factor in (in a minimal way) to any trade talks the Browns might have with other clubs, but Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson has been adamant that the Browns won’t deal Thomas.
  • Titans LB Brian Orakpo, $200K 2017 base salary escalator (link): Orakpo’s 2017 base salary will increase to $5.95MM after he was selected to the Pro Bowl and played in more than 65% of the Titans’ defensive snaps. Orakpo, who has posted 11 sacks during his second season with Tennessee, is signed through 2018.
  • Titans DT Jurrell Casey, $100K 2017 base salary escalator (link): Casey, 27, is arguably one of the more underpaid defenders in the league, as he’s due only $36MM from 2014-2018. His 2017 base salary will now increase to $5.9MM in 2017, and he’s also due a $200K roster bonus next spring.

AFC Notes: Murray, Colts, RGIII

Let’s take a quick swing around the AFC:

  • Titans RB DeMarco Murray had an MRI on his toe after Thursday night’s victory over Jacksonville, and the prognosis is good, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Rapoport’s source indicated that Murray will be fine.
  • Kevin Bowen of Colts.com believes that Colts TE Jack Doyle has established himself as a starting-caliber tight end, and that his free agent platform year has come at a perfect time for him. Bowen says Doyle will be one of Indianapolis’ most important free agents this offseason and that he could pull down a contract with a $5MM average annual value.
  • Colts DE Kendall Langford, who has the the longest active games-played streak among all NFL defensive linemen (135), will see that streak come to an end, according to Andrew Walker of Colts.com. Langford continues to deal with a right knee issue that required minor surgery during training camp, and he will sit out an indeterminate amount of time to give that knee a chance to fully heal.
  • Neema Hodjat of OverTheCap.com examines what a potential extension for Raiders QB Derek Carr might look like. This is Carr’s third year in the league, so he will be eligible to receive an extension at the end of this season. Assuming he continues to play at a high level, Carr should command a five-year deal worth upwards of $110MM, according to Hodjat. And the Raiders, who have done a terrific job managing the salary cap in recent years, will be able to shell out that kind of money without much hesitation.
  • Browns QB Robert Griffin III does not need surgery at this time, so he could possibly return somewhere between the November 20 game against the Steelers and the Dececmber 11 matchup against the Bengals after the bye week, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Cabot believes the Browns should get RGIII some action this year if possible, as they have to decide if they need to draft a quarterback in April.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe opines that the Patriots‘ recent trades for Kyle Van Noy and Eric Rowe indicate that the team is preparing for significant free agent losses this offseason. Both players are under club control through at least 2017, and they are playing on fairly inexpensive deals. Van Noy will serve as insurance should one or both of Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower depart in free agency, and Rowe will offset the potential losses of Malcolm Butler and/or Logan Ryan.
  • Volin tweets that Jacoby Brissett could be the Patriots‘ one player to return from IR this season.

DeMarco Murray On Cowboys, Eagles

Before the Eagles traded running back DeMarco Murray to the Titans in March, the ex-Cowboy was “95 percent sure” Philadelphia was going to send him back to Dallas.

“I was very close to going back there,” Murray told Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram. “There were some things that fell through and just didn’t happen.”

DeMarco Murray

While the Cowboys and Eagles did discuss Murray during the offseason, Philly was reluctant to trade with an NFC East rival, a source informed Williams. Nevertheless, the two nearly agreed to a deal, the source added.

Murray “was very involved in the talks,” he revealed to Williams. The 28-year-old also said that his heart wasn’t into continuing his career as an Eagle, though he called executive vice president Howie Roseman and owner Jeffrey Lurie “really good people.”

When Murray signed a five-year, $42MM contract with the Eagles as a free agent in March 2015, he was fresh off a season in which he rushed for an NFL-high 1,845 yards and earned AP Offensive Player of the Year honors. But Murray was nowhere near as productive as part of then-Eagles head coach Chip Kelly‘s offense in 2015. Under Kelly, Murray set a career low in yards per carry (3.6) on 193 attempts – 199 fewer than he racked up during his last year in Dallas.

“Obviously, the scheme just wasn’t a fit for me, and I wasn’t a fit for them,” he said of his time in Philadelphia. “It wasn’t pointing fingers or anything. It just wasn’t a good relationship. Those things happen, and you learn from them. I was fortunate enough to come here and be here and be a Titan now.”

Now that he’s no longer in an Eagles uniform, Murray once again looks like one of the league’s premier backs, having averaged 5.0 yards per rush and totaled three touchdowns on 93 carries. The ex-Oklahoma Sooner has also piled up two more scores as a pass catcher and amassed 24 receptions on 27 targets.

As for the Cowboys, “they’ve got a pretty good young back over there as well,” Murray quipped, referring to rookie Ezekiel Elliott. Just under two months after a reunion with Murray fell through, the Cowboys selected Elliott fourth overall in the draft. The only rusher in the league with more yards than Murray this year is Elliott, who has 546 (and five TDs). Clearly, then, the non-trade has worked out for both Murray and the Cowboys.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC South Notes: Jaguars, Murray, Titans, Luck

The Jaguars seemingly have five wide receivers locked into roster spots, according to Ryan O’Halloran of Jacksonville.comAllen Robinson, Allen Hurns, Rashad Greene, Marqise Lee, and Bryan Walters.

That means there could be seven wideouts competing for a single roster spot. The group includes Arrelious Benn, Tony Washington, Rasheed Bailey, Rashad Lawrence, Jamal Robinson, Shaq Evans and Shane Wynn.

If one of those players was going to emerge, O’Halloran points to Benn. The former second-round pick was set to earn a roster spot last season before breaking his collarbone.

“He’s a big, strong, physical guy,” receivers coach Jerry Sullivan told O’Halloran. “He should be a top-notch special teams guy and be a dependable guy who can come in and be a relief pitcher.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes from the AFC South…