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After two seasons in Minnesota playing backup to Dalvin Cook, former Vikings running back Latavius Murray was just traded to the New Orleans Saints for a three-year deal that looks to put him in a similar situation as before.
Now Murray will play backup to another young, rising NFL star, the Saints Alvin Kamara, and together theyll try to replicate the one-two punch Kamara used to share with the recently departed free agent Mark Ingram, who will now run wild for the Baltimore Ravens.
In his five NFL seasons, Murray has averaged about 740 rushing yards per year, so we look at his journey to New Orleans and examine the odds and predictions of his 2019 season behind Kamara on a Saints team looking to make its way back to the Super Bowl.
Latavius Murray is a 29-year old NFL running back who was originally born in Titusville, Florida to parents Paul Murray and Tawanna Wright, his family moving to Onondaga, New York where he became a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and track) at Onondaga Central High School.
In three high school seasons, Murray rushed for 5,833 yards and 72 touchdowns, and in his senior year was named the 2007 Gatorade Football Player of the Year in the state of New York and the Class D Player of the Year and First-Team All-State, as well as being listed as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.
After fielding scholarship offers from various schools (Boston College, Maryland, Syracuse and others), Murray decided to play his college football at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
He got progressively better after a freshman year where he played in just 8 games and ran for only 132 yards but 3 touchdowns.
His sophomore year he averaged 5.7 yards per carry on his way to 637 total yards and 11 touchdowns, and his junior season he carried the ball 98 times for 549 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Murrays senior season in 2012 was his best, averaging 100.5 yards rushing per game, totaling 1,106 yards and 15 touchdowns while catching 27 balls for 231 yards and four touchdowns and being named First-team All-C-USA.
Despite not being invited to the NFL Combine that offseason, Murray impressed scouts enough at the UCF pro day that he was selected in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raider, the 15th running back taken during the draft that year.
Murray scored a four-year, $2.26 million contract that included a signing bonus of $106,200 and a guarantee of $106,200.
Unfortunately for all involved, Murrays ankle required arthroscopic surgery before his rookie season even started so he ended up sitting out the 2013 season recovering.
At first in 2014, Murray played backup to starters Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, but when they seemed ineffective by Week 11, Murray began getting more touches and by the end of his second NFL season he ran the ball 82 times for 424 yard and 2 touchdowns.
Murrays 2015 Pro Bowl season was his best in the league so far in terms of total touches (307), and total yards from scrimmage (1,298) with 6 touchdowns, though his 2016 numbers were also solid with 228 touches for 1,052 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns.
Regardless of his positive output, Murrays contract would have been up the following season and instead of negotiating a new one, the Raiders traded Murray in 2017 to the Minnesota Vikings.
The Raiders needed a bigger, more physical running back, which they believed they could find in the 2017 draft, so because Murray would have to be signed to a new contract the front office decided to let him go instead.
Though Murray didnt want to leave and some players on the team fought to retain him, he ended up signing a three-year deal with the Vikings worth $15 million.
The deal included $3.4 million guaranteed with an additional $5.15 million guaranteed if he makes the roster in 2018.
Murrays number was 28, but out of respect for Minnesota hero Adrian Peterson, he decided to go with No. 25 instead, in honor of a close friend who had died the year prior.
On his Instagram account, Murray explained his decision eloquently:
“There wasn’t a thought in my mind to try and wear or ask for the No. 28. I have too much respect for Adrian Peterson and so much respect for what he’s done and what he means to this organization.”
For the two seasons that Murray played in Minnesota, he had to compete with young phenom Dalvin Cook, except for when Cook was injured in 2017 with a torn ACL.
Murray had 231 touches in 2017 for 945 yards from scrimmage and 8 touchdowns in 2017 while he only had 162 touches in 2018 for 719 yards and 6 touchdowns.
But the bottom line for Murray was his desire to be the starter, and since Cook had established himself in that role in Minnesota, Murray knew he had to go elsewhere to have a chance as the main man.
Only thats not really how it worked out for him.
The deal was announced on Tuesday, March 12 and experts see it as a way for the Saints to replace their recently lost power runner Mark Ingram, who will now play for the Ravens.
Murray signed a four-year contract worth $14.4 million, including a $3.4 million signing bonus.
Hell average about $3.6 million per season and will become an unrestricted free agent in 2023.
With Ingram the two-time Pro-Bowler off the Saints roster now, New Orleans needs a short yardage back to share carries with speedster Kamara.
Also, with Murrays soft hands, he can be a legitimate target for quarterback Drew Brees to go to and defenses will have to account for that.
With Murray helping to carry the rushing load, the Saints are hoping there will be no real interruption to the Boom and Zoom attack that Kamara and Ingram had perfected.
Yes, theyll need a solid backup so that Cook can rest.
Also, with Cooks injuries over the last two years, having a backup like Murray has kept the negative effects of not having Cook in the lineup down to a minimum, so without him theyll have to take their chances on what they can draft or on what they already have.
Right now as roster backups for Cook, the Vikings have Ameer Abdullah, whom they grabbed on waivers last November and Michael Boone and Roc Thomas, two undrafted free agents they picked up last season.
There are two major categories that running backs are judged on at the end of a regular season, and those are total rushing yards and touchdowns.
In his five total NFL seasons, Murray has averaged about 740 rushing yards per year and 6.8 touchdowns, so if he has a typical year, based on the odds below the bets to make are easy to figure out.
But whenever a player finds himself on a new team, he is forced to learn a new playbook and get used to a new system, so who knows how that will affect Murrays production.
Here are his current odds for 2019:
Caveat: Murray must play in game one for action to commence.
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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