Latavius Murray rose through the ranks to become a featured Raiders running back. The 2013 sixth-round pick spent his entire rookie year on injured reserve with an ankle injury and his second behind inefficient veteran running backs, patiently waiting for his opportunity.
It came late that year against Kansas City, when his 90-yard touchdown run proved he had the speed, vision and agility to excel at this level.
Murray has been a central figure since then. He broke the 1,000-yard barrier, was the AFC's third-leading rusher and named a Pro Bowl replacement in 2015. Murray was part of a running back rotation this season. He had 788 rushing yards on 195 carries, 71 fewer than a year ago, but still averaged 4.0 yards per carry and had 12 rushing touchdowns in the regular season and another in the playoffs.
The Raiders didn't win that playoff game in Houston, ending his season and possibly his time in Oakland. Murray will be an unrestricted free agent in this next league year, and should have suitors.
Murray hopes to stay put. He wants to re-sign with the Raiders this offseason and stay with a group that should be a regular playoff contender.
"I don't think I ever want to be a guy that bounces around or anything like that," Murray said Sunday. "I would love to finish my career here. I think it says a lot for any player who stays in one place. I would love to finish what I started, but I know how things could go."
The Raiders could place a lower value on Murray than others, which could prompt him to sign with another club. Murray hopes to reach an accord and stay put. He said the Raiders have spoken to his camp about his next contract.
"There were conversations about it, but obviously nothing concrete or anything at this point," Murray said. "We'll see what happens."
Murray is a popular player in that locker room, and the lead dog in the running back pack. The Raiders prefer a committee rushing approach, one that paid dividends in 2016. The Raiders ranked sixth in the NFL with 120.1 yards per game.
Quarterback Derek Carr, one of Murray's closest friends, hopes the running back is retained.
"In this business, you don't know the turnover, you don't know what upstairs is thinking, you don't know what they want to do," Carr said. "We all know that we want him back. We love him. He's one of my best friends in this whole world. Not just because he can run the ball, but because he can pick up blitzes. That goes unseen and unheard sometimes. I want him back. I know everyone here wants him back so hopefully we can do that."