Raiders Re-Sign or Realign: Time to move on from Latavius Murray

HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07: Oakland Raiders quarterback Connor Cook (8) hands off to Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray (28) during the NFL AFC Wild Card game between the Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans on January 7, 2017, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire)

Latavius Murray is by far the biggest name on the Oakland Raiders set to hit free agency this season. The former 6th round back has been a starter for Oakland the past couple of seasons, but inconsistency and the presence of young, talented backs, means Murray is more likely destined for another team than the Raiders in 2017.

It was reported yesterday that the Raiders are expected to move on from Murray this offseason. That report, however, comes from Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle. To be clear, Tafur never said that he has sources or is reporting a rumor, this was based on his own opinion. Obviously, the opinion of a beat writer who covers the team as closely as Tafur is valuable. But it’s not a done deal at all.

So, that leads us to wonder… should the Raiders re-sign Latavius Murray or let him walk?

While his stats are good, Murray has struggled with consistency ever since entering the NFL. He improved his game a lot in 2016, improving in areas that many wanted to see improvement in. He began to lower his shoulder and deliver blows rather than simply taking them, even breaking a number of tackles.

But even with the improvements to his game, Murray was still inconsistent. Looking at total yards makes it difficult to judge a back when they split carries as Murray did in 2016. But yards per carry tends to be a pretty good indicator of how a back is doing over all. Murray’s 2016 YPC number was 4.0 which ranked him tied for 23rd in the NFL (when only including backs who ha 100 or more carries).

While 4.0 yards per carry is not a bad number by any means, it’s also not an overly impressive number. Especially when you consider the fact that Murray has two young backs nipping at his heels. And while neither Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington hit the 100 carry mark, both averaged over 5 yards per carry in 2016.

Much of the time, when deciding whether or not to re-sign a player, the price tag is the deciding factor. With Murray, that may only be one of a few important factors.

Yes, money is important. If the Raiders re-sign Murray, even at a hometown discount, it would still be far more expensive than drafting another back to replace him. This year is supposed to have one of the deepest running back classes in years and the Raiders could probably find a back in the fourth round or later who could match Murray’s contributions while being paid significantly less.

But perhaps more importantly, the Raiders have two young backs they are very happy with and in reality, don’t even necessarily need someone who will replace Murray’s productivity. What the team needs is a short yardage specialist. Those kinds of backs can come very cheap and be found late in the draft. Richard and Washington can handle the majority of the work load with a rookie coming in for short yardage plays or late in games to close out a win.

Latavius Murray has played well for the Raiders but with the current makeup of the roster, a deep running back draft class and the need to save money to sign big names like Derek Carr, Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, Murray just doesn’t seem destined to be in the future plans of the Raiders.

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james arcellana

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