When the Raiders selected Latavius Murray in the sixth round of the 2013 draft, they got a bargain.
Over the past two seasons, Murray has rushed for 1,066 and 788 yards and a total of 18 touchdowns. Over that span, he’s also caught 74 passes out of the backfield. That’s not bad production for a guy Oakland paid $675,000 in 2016 as its No. 1 back.
But it appears more and more likely that his 2016 season may have been his last in the Bay Area. Murray can be an unrestricted free agent, and it will cost GM Reggie McKenzie much more to keep him. With McKenzie eager to get quarterback Derek Carr and defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack signed to long-term deals this offseason, while also adding a key free agent or two to the defense, it seems likely that there may not be enough money in the kitty to re-sign Murray.
Vic Tafur, who covers the Raiders for the San Francisco Chronicle, tweeted this week that he believes the Raiders will not bring Murray back. Wrote Tafur: “I don’t think coaches see Murray as great fit, & big value (6th-rd pick) not there anymore. Plus Tay will get offers.”
Murray offered some power in the Raiders backfield, especially in goal-line situations. He scored 12 TDs in 2016, many from short range.
But effective running backs often are easy to come by in the draft, sometimes even in the mid to late rounds. Murray was one such find, as were two 2016 rookies, Jalen Richard (undrafted) and DeAndre Washington (fifth round). McKenzie could add a veteran to the mix in 2017, or draft another big-bodied back to fill Murray’s role.
McKenzie has been a big fan of Murray, who has a nice combination of speed and size. But in an interview on 95.7 The Game recently, McKenzie said he has to balance finances with player production.
“When you’re talking about a guy who is 6-foot-3, close to 230 pounds, there’s not a whole lot of similar you can get there,” McKenzie said. “He’s one of those kinds that don’t come around too often when you talk about size. I’m always in position to want to re-sign our own players, but the finances of it always will play a part. You never know, there’s 31 other teams out there who may be communicating with his representatives. We’ll see where it goes, but we like to re-sign our guys.”