DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray Declines Saints Workout

The Saints reached out to running DeMarco Murray to bring him to New Orleans for a Wednesday workout, but he declined, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Apparently, Murray did not want to work out as a part of a large group of running backs. 

Schefter hears that Murray is still very much intent on playing and believes that he can be a significant contributor in 2018, but he is also waiting for the right opportunity. The right opportunity, apparently, was not an audition with the Saints on the same week as Tim Hightower, Jamaal Charles, and Terrance West.

The Titans kicked Murray to the curb in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the LionsSeahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Murray, 30, is coming off of a down season in which he amassed just 659 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. On a per-tote basis, it matched the career low he set in his lone season with the Eagles. He did have 39 catches for 266 yards, however, and may be capable of getting back to his old form with a new team. Murray ultimately graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 40 running back in the league.

The Saints, who will be without Mark Ingram for the first four games of the season, are exploring veteran additions to support top rusher Alvin Kamara.

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The Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

The biggest names in this year’s free agent class such as Kirk Cousins, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, and Trumaine Johnson have long been spoken for, but plenty of notable players remain on the board here in June. With a hat tip to James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter), here’s a look at some high-profile veterans who are still seeking work this summer: 

Of course, Kaepernick’s situation is more complicated than the rest. Lately, the only updates we’ve heard regarding Kaepernick have been tied to his pending collusion case against the NFL. Former teammate Reid is certainly closer to the NFL radar after an April meeting with the Bengals, but he also believes teams are shying away from him due to his participation in anthem protests. Reid filed a grievance of his own against the NFL in May and has been spotted working out with Kaepernick.

Unfortunately for Murray and Peterson, filing a grievance for age bias against running backs is not an option. The Titans kicked Murray to the curb in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the Lions, Seahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Peterson has lobbied the Texans, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Dolphins, and Rams to sign him, but we have yet to hear of any reciprocated interest from those clubs. Given Peterson’s reluctance to be on the lower end of a timeshare in New Orleans last year, one has to imagine that Peterson will not be a real consideration for teams unless a starter gets injured in camp. Murray could be a more attractive option for teams. Although he averaged just 3.6 yards per tote with the Titans last year, he contributed in the passing game with 39 receptions.

Bryant says he has no regrets about turning down a three-year, $21MM offer from the Ravens, but right now it looks like he blew his opportunity at a solid free agent deal. Reportedly, many teams are unwilling to consider him for even the league minimum, so it seems unlikely that he’ll find the lucrative one-year contract he’s seeking. On the plus side, his former employer says multiple teams have checked in on him.

Things have been eerily quiet for Maclin after he was displaced by the Ravens, though the Eagles and Cowboys considered him internally in the spring. We also haven’t heard a peep about Decker since his spring meetings with the Raiders and Ravens. Both players are roughly in the same boat – they were 1,000-yard receivers in 2015, but they are on the wrong side of 30 and haven’t done much on the field in the last two years. Still, both profile as low-risk/high-reward signings.

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NFC Notes: Julio, Panthers, Bucs, Rams

As expected, Julio Jones reportedly did not attend the opening day of Falcons organized team activities, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter.

He adds head coach Dan Quinn will address the situation on Tuesday and did not respond to questions about the reports that Jones wants an update to his contract. Though he is absent, the two sides appear amenable and are likely to work things out in due time.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio speculates Jones, who has three years left on his current deal, could be trying to get the team’s attention after Matt Ryan‘s new contract is set to pay the quarterback ($30MM) twice the amount that Jones is to receive ($14.25MM). His current deal slots him in as the No. 8 receiver on the pay scale, behind players like Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins and Davante Adams.

Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap says that the word “update” could mean the Falcons moving money forward in Jones’ contract to make the team’s key player happy. On a team in win-now mode, the move could be seen as avoiding potential chemistry issues in the locker room. A recent example of this, according to Fitzgerald, is a similar situation with Antonio Brown and the Steelers.

“The Steelers twice moved money forward in Brown’s contract to prevent a player from being unhappy. In 2015 the Steelers moved $2 million from 2016 up to 2015 and in 2016 they moved $4 million from 2017 into 2016. Overall the team fronted him $4 million and then extended him in 2017.”

Regardless of what the course of action Atlanta chooses to pursue, it is unlikely to hinder it from fielding one of the top three receivers in the league in 2018.  

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Panthers sale to David Tepper is expected to go through without “any surprises,” Houston Texans owner Bob McNair told ESPN’s David Newton. Tepper needs 24 votes — 23 with the absence of former Panthers GM Jerry Richardson — on Tuesday when the 31 NFL owners convene. Richardson is unlikely to attend, but nothing has been set in stone.
  • Florida Football Insiders posted a list of potential free agent targets for the Buccaneers, and named DeMarco Murray and Kenny Vaccaro as possibilities. Murray would make for a solid one-two punch with rookie running back Ronald Jones, while Vaccaro would bring a veteran presence to a shaky pass defense.
  • Linebacker Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, the Rams‘ fifth-round pick, underwent surgery on his foot and is expected to return sometime during training camp, head coach Sean McVay told ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry (Twitter link). Okoronkwo starred at Oklahoma in 2017, earning Co-Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Big 12 after logging 17.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks.

Dolphins To Meet With RB DeMarco Murray

Free agent running back DeMarco Murray will visit the Dolphins on Sunday, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (Twitter link) reported earlier today that Miami had inquired on Murray, who has also met with the Seahawks and Lions since getting a pink slip from the Titans.

Murray, 30, is coming off of a down season in which he amassed just 659 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. On a per-tote basis, it matched the career low he set in his lone season with the Eagles. He did have 39 catches for 266 yards, however, and may be capable of getting back to his old form with a new team. Murray ultimately graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 40 running back in the league.

Murray would certainly provide the Dolphins will some experience at running back, as the team’s current options are all 26 or younger. Behind projected starter Kenyan Drake, Miami is also rostering Senorise PerryDe’Veon Smith, and Brandon Radcliff.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks To Host RB DeMarco Murray

The Seahawks will host free agent running back DeMarco Murray after he meets with the Lions on Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Seattle fielded one of the league’s worst running games in 2017, as the club ranked in the bottom third of the NFL in both yards per rush and rushing DVOA. While the Seahawks will return Chris Carson, C.J. Prosise, and J.D. McKissic in 2018, Eddie Lacy is an unrestricted free agent while Thomas Rawls and Mike Davis are restricted free agents.

Murray, whom the Titans released last week, is not only entering his age-30 campaign, but coming off the worst season of his career. While he appeared in 15 games, Murray ceded work to second-year back Derrick Henry, and tied a career-low with only 3.6 yards per carry.

It’s not all bad news for Murray, however, as he was still able to manage 39 receptions in the passing game. Additionally, Murray is only one season removed from a 1,200 yard season on the ground, and — even in down year — still ranked as a league-average back in DVOA, Football Outsiders‘ per-play value metric.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

DeMarco Murray To Meet With Lions

Former Titans running back DeMarco Murray is scheduled to visit the Lions on Monday, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Murray secured his release from Tennessee on Thursday, making him eligible for free agency right away.

Murray, 30, is coming off of a down season in which he amassed just 659 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry. On a per-tote basis, it matched the career low he set in his lone season with the Eagles. He did have 39 catches for 266 yards, however, and may be capable of getting back to his old form with a new team.

The Lions are in serious need of help in the backfield after finishing at or near the bottom in every statistical measure of rushing. Detroit owns the No. 20 selection in this year’s draft, but they may prefer to use that pick to bolster their pass rush or another area of the team.

Last year, Murray graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 40 running back in the league. That’s nothing to write home about, but pass-catching specialist Theo Riddick (No. 24) was the only Detroit RB to place higher.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Sherman, Lions, Redskins, Bucs

Richard Sherman‘s contract with the 49ers is not yet official, reports Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (via Twitter). The reporter doesn’t anticipate any issues with the deal, but since Sherman is acting as his own agent, Maiocco expects the NFLPA “to spend a lot of time” going over the details of the contract.

Meanwhile, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com believes that details of the reported three-year, $39MM deal are a “mirage.” Most of the incentives and specifics of the contract were reported yesterday, but Florio is under the impression that the deal will ultimately come in at a much lower total. The writer notes that Sherman can only make $13MM next season if he “dresses for all 16 regular-season games, achieves the total playing-time threshold, and make it to the NFC Pro Bowl team (or, possibly, the AP All-Pro team).”

Let’s take a look at some other notes out of the NFC…

  • If a top-tier quarterback were to fall to the second round, ESPN.com’s John Keim is uncertain if the Redskins would use a pick on a future starter. The writer notes that the team is set to have Alex Smith under contract for at least three seasons, and Colt McCoy will still be around in 2018. Generally, head coach Jay Gruden has preferred to keep only two signal-callers on his roster. However, if someone like Lamar Jackson were to fall to pick number-44, Keim could see the Redskins trying to convince the quarterback to develop into a multi-purpose weapon for the time being.
  • If the Lions don’t envision tight end Eric Ebron being in their future plans, ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein believes it makes sense for the organization to get something for the player via trade. However, if the team plans to trade Ebron and replace him with someone like Jimmy Graham, Rothstein doesn’t understand the logic. The two tight ends put up similar numbers in 2017, and Graham is seven years older than Ebron. Ultimately, the writer doesn’t believe a player like Graham would provide a massive upgrade over Ebron.
  • The Lions do need an early-down running back, but Rothstein doesn’t believe veteran DeMarco Murray would be a good fit. The running back’s age and declining numbers make the writer wary, and he anticipates the Pro Bowler would earn more than his fellow free agents. Plus, Rothstein points out that there are younger, more intriguing options available via free agency.
  • With $28MM in cap space and six key contributors heading to free agency, the Lions will look the revamp their defense this offseason, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit could conceivably be eyeing holes on every unit of their defense, including defensive line, linebacker, and defensive back. “From a needs standpoint, we’re going to make sure obviously we have enough competition in all the situations and you want to have good competition, the best competition you can possibly get,” head coach Matt Patricia said of his team’s offseason approach. “So you’re never going to really try to pass up an opportunity for a good player on your team, and whether that puts someone else that’s maybe a good player on your team in a hard spot or a competitive situation, then that’s probably good for you. So that’s what we’re going to do as we go through.” The Lions are apparently already looking to make some moves, as the team is set to meet with cornerback DeShawn Shead this week.
  • The Buccaneers want Brent Grimes back next season, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Of course, as the reporter notes, the veteran’s return will depend on the offer. The 34-year-old spent the past two seasons in Tampa Bay, compiling seven interceptions in 29 games.

Titans Release DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray will not be part of a third Titans team. Tennessee made the decision to release the veteran running back on Thursday.

No additional guaranteed money remained on Murray’s Eagles-constructed deal, and he will venture into free agency again — this time as a street free agent.

The Titans will save $6.5MM by releasing their two-year starter, who did not perform as well in 2017 as he had during a Pro Bowl 2016 slate. The team will now turn to Derrick Henry, who ate into a bigger portion of Murray’s workload in his second season.

With free agency less than a week away, Tennessee is now projected to hold more than $53MM in cap space.

A three-time Pro Bowler, Murray turned 30 last month and has now averaged 3.6 yards per carry in two of his past three seasons. While his previous two even years — a first-team All-Pro appearance with the Cowboys in 2014 and amassing 1,664 yards from scrimmage two years later — have been superb, his work with the 2015 Eagles and ’17 Titans don’t paint a portrait of reliability.

Although, this free agent running back class is not particularly strong. Murray could generate a market, albeit one at a much lower rate than what he commanded from the then-Chip Kelly-run Eagles three years ago.

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Rapoport On Bryant, Cobb, Nelson, Murray

It’s cutting season, and there are several big name veterans on the chopping block. Here’s the latest from NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (video links):

  • Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant is a candidate for release, but Rapoport’s understanding is that Dallas plans to move forward with him, in part because of all of the resources they have already invested in him. It’s far from a lock that he’ll return under his current contract, however. Bryant, who will turn 30 during the upcoming season, is due a base salary of $12.5MM in 2018. The Cowboys could ask Bryant to accept a pay cut/extension that will make his contract a bit more palatable.
  • The Packers have two big-name WRs of their own who could be cap casualties. Rapoport gets the sense that either Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson will be shown the door. Based on recent production, it could be Cobb who is cut loose. Cobb is slated to carry a $12.72MM cap hit in the final year of his deal, but the team can save $9.47MM with just $3.25MM in dead money if they release him.
  • Rapoport speculates that the Titans could cut running back DeMarco Murray, which makes sense given the presence of Derrick Henry. Murray is slated to count for $6.75MM against the cap this year and next, but those are completely non-guaranteed seasons. In 2017, the 30-year-old finished with 659 fewer rushing yards than he amassed in 2016, a Pro Bowl campaign. His yards-per-carry average also dipped from 4.4 to 3.6.
  • Tyrod Taylor is a release candidate for the Bills, but Rapoport rightly notes that the team is more likely to trade him given the need for quarterbacks around the league.

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.