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.

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.

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.


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Arif Hasan has written for sites all across the internet and his work has been featured in the Star Tribune, LA Times, Forbes, SB Nation, International Business Times, the Bleacher Report and MSNBC. He’s made radio appearances for 1500 ESPN, TSN, KATE 1450 and others. He currently also writes for the Daily Norseman and Optimum Scouting. You can find him on twitter at @ArifHasanNFL.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am really happy to see this signing finally happen. This sets up the Viking running backs as Jet, Murray and a rookie from an outstanding running back draft class. More than that, it marks the end of an offensive philosophy which was completely at odds with the current NFL rules.

    Going forward, this offense belongs to Sam Bradford, a trio of running backs, Thielen and Diggs at receiver, and Rudy at tight end. I have been a Vikings fan for 35 years, and this is the most excited I have been since Favre was here in 2009.

  2. Murray also returns kicks pretty well, not Patterson level, but still a 20 yd per kick average so he replaces both Patterson and Peterson should they choose to use him on kicks. Good solid signing and another guy that will help protect Bradford as well as catch passes. Still hope we can get a center or guard in free agency, then load up with depth at OL and RB in the draft.

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