Packers Rumors: RB Latavius Murray in Green Bay?
The Packers need help at running back; that much is clear. But could they be in the market for one of the best young running backs available in free agency? Las Vegas certainly think so.
According to some bookmakers, the Packers are the odds-on favorite to land Latavius Murray, who’s hitting free agency after three years with the Oakland Raiders.
Sportsline.com reports Bookmaker.eu is offering a +350 bet (bet $100, win $350) on Murray making his way to Green Bay. Here’s their breakdown:
The Packers outrushed only two other teams last season, and a case can be made that running back is their neediest position. Squads on the cusp of Super Bowl contention often bring out the checkbook for one player who can fill a critical void.
If they retain Eddie Lacy, which could be a long shot given his lack of reliability, Murray is off the table. But if Lacy heads out the door, it will be wide open for Murray. Lacy is 2/1 to return to Green Bay.
The facts on Murray
Murray just turned 27, and has rushed for 2,278 yards and 20 touchdowns so far in his career, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He’s also caught 91 passes for 639 yards. Those numbers aren’t eye-popping, but Murray is expected to cash in nonetheless, and it’s easy to see why.
At 6-3 and 225 pounds, Murray is a big, exciting back. He posted times of 4.38 and 4.40 at his Pro Day workout in 2014. He’s flashed that speed at the next level as well: watch him blow through the Chiefs defense on this monster run:
Spotrac.com estimates that Murray will likely net a contract in the range of about $27 million over four years, considering what backs like Lamar Miller, Mark Ingram, and Chris Ivory have recently signed for. Given that set of circumstances, would the Packers even be interested?
Well, put it this way: if you’re willing to bet $100 on the Packers signing Murray, I’d be more than happy to take your money.
Murray is good, but not a great fit for Green Bay
As we’ve written previously, the Packers need three things from their backs: good pass blocking, good pass catching skills, and the ability to run well out of the shotgun formation.
Murray excels as a pass blocker. According to Pro Football Focus, he was the third best pass blocking running back in the NFL, behind only Jonathan Stewart in Carolina and Robert Turbin in Indianapolis.
As a pass catcher, though, Murray doesn’t bring that much to the table. For his career, he’s caught about 76% of the passes thrown his way, but he hasn’t done that much with the ball once it’s in his hands.
He’s not considered overly elusive, and averages a pedestrian 7.0 yards per catch. That’s more than a yard less than Adrian Peterson averages per catch, and we criticized him fairly strongly for his shortcomings as a receiver.
Finally, Murray isn’t that bad running out of shotgun, but he isn’t that great either. For his career, he averages 4.3 yards per carry from the shotgun formation, the same as Eddie Lacy. While that’s not terrible, it’s certainly less than the Packers would want from someone they’d have to pay as much as Murray.
Though Vegas likes the chances of Murray coming to Green Bay, the fact remains that signing a free agent running back remains a bad bet. Gamblers (and the Packers) should put their money elsewhere.