The Minnesota Vikings have signed former Oakland Raiders running back Latavius Murray, according to Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Field Yates reports the deal as being three years, with an option to void after one year—which we’ve found out to mean a team option, not a player option.
Latavius Murray's deal with Minnesota is for three years, but can be voided after one season. Possible shot at free agency again in 2018.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 16, 2017
UPDATE: Ben Goessling of ESPN reports that the deal is worth $15 million over three years, has $8.5 million guaranteed and a salary guarantee of $5.15 million in the final year that kicks in if he’s on the roster on the third day of 2018. Essentially, the Vikings are in control of the contract.
His deal also includes a modest $1.8 million signing bonus (which means the dead penalty against the cap in year three is minimal) and $2.3 million in performance incentives. Despite the average value of the contract hitting $5 million, his first-year cap hit will be relatively small—essentially $3 million, meaning it should rise a small amount in 2019.
Latavius Murray will not be requesting jersey number 28, which he wore in Oakland in honor of Fred Taylor and Adrian Peterson. He details why in an instagram post he tweeted out shortly after he was officially signed this morning. For a brief time in Oakland, he wore number 34.
There wasn't a thought in my mind to try and wear or ask for the #28. I have too much respect for AP and so much respect for what he's done and what he means to this organization. Many people don't know, but I wore the #28 as a kid because of Fred Taylor who played for the Jaguars at the time. When AP came onto the scene and Fred retired, he was my reason for keeping #28. I want to say to Vikings fans: I'm not here to replace #28, he's irreplaceable. I'm not here to be #28, there's no one like him. I ask that you accept me for the player I am and know that I'm here to give you all I got and to win #skol
The Vikings have been looking for a running back to complement Jerick McKinnon since releasing Adrian Peterson from his expensive contract.
Murray has a career rushing average of 4.2 yards per carry, but in the last two years has averaged 4.0 yards per carry. Notably, his career average from shotgun matches his recent rushing average at 4.0.
Despite that, he was Pro Football Focus’ 21st-graded running back and in particular their third-best pass protector. He was also Football Outsiders 23rd-highest scoring running back in DVOA. Especially good was his success rate, ranked 16th of all running backs and better than anything the Vikings have put together from any single back in a few years.
Murray sports solid hands and excellent pass protection skills, but has had some issues as a runner. He will run through contact, but doesn’t get many more yards than falling forward and tends to run a little high. In Oakland, he did an excellent job following blocks, but didn’t display the creative vision that many had hoped he would develop.
Murray still should be able to leverage his power in goal line situations, and his career average rate of goal line success (67.5 percent) is just above league average. Last year, at 70.5 percent, his goal line success rate was among the top third among NFL running backs with at least ten attempts.
He’s more than adequate as a committee back but also doesn’t prevent the Vikings from pursuing a running back in the draft. Minnesota thus far has done a solid job of filling out needs and creating flexibility in their draft approach, even if they haven’t hit many home runs.