Our friend Christopher Gates over at SB Nation’s Daily Norseman on the Minnesota Vikings, was kind enough to answer a few questions about one of the new additions to the New Orleans Saints: RB Latavius Murray.
With the trend in the NFL appearing to be a backfield by committee approach (save only for the Ezekiel Elliotts, Leveon Bells, and Saquon Barkleys of the world), what was the rationale in letting Murray go? Is Dalvin Cook just that good? Or was Murray just that expendable?
Murray is a solid NFL running back, and I’m not sure if he was necessarily expendable, but with the Vikings’ cap situation, they weren’t going to be able to give him the sort of deal the Saints gave him. I think a lot of us were surprised to see him go to New Orleans, honestly, because he had expressed a desire to be more of a lead back, and that’s certainly not going to be his role with the Saints. I think the Vikings also have a back that they like in Mike Boone that they think can play a significant role for them at a much lower price than Murray, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them use a draft pick on one in a few weeks, too.
Murray seems at least capable catching passes out of the backfield, but did he ever line up wide while in Minnesota?
I don’t recall a lot of situations where he lined up out wide. It’s definitely not something he was asked to do on a regular basis. He’s a very capable pass catcher, but that’s going to come from out of the backfield for him, or at least it did during his time in Minnesota. The Saints may use him differently.
Something else that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet is pass blocking. How did Murray look in blocking for the Vikings QB, whether that be Case Keenum, Kirk Cousin, or anyone else?
Murray was a very capable pass blocker, and more than held his own in blitz pickup on the occasions he was asked to do so. It’s actually a pretty underrated part of his game, and I don’t remember him getting beaten badly for sacks or anything like that when he was asked to block.
Murray signed a 4-year, $14.4 million dollar contract to come to New Orleans, with only $7.2 million guaranteed. Was this an overpay, a bargain, or just right?
I think that’s just about right for a back like Murray. Like I said, he’s not going to be asked to play a lead role in New Orleans with Alvin Kamara in the backfield, but he’s the sort of guy that can step in and be a quality starter if Kamara should miss time. He does a lot of things well. . .he’s a very good goal-line back, he’s a good pass catcher, and he’s a good pass blocker. He’s not a superstar, but if he has to carry the load for an extended period, the Saints shouldn’t see too much of a drop-off.
What do you think Murray’s ceiling is in New Orleans?
I think his ceiling is similar to what it was in Minnesota, where he spent most of his time as part of a tandem. He can serve as a goal-line hammer if necessary, and he’ll have some games where he breaks some long runs and provides solid skills out of the backfield. I think the Saints are a good fit for him with the loss of Mark Ingram, and he’ll likely play a similar role to what Ingram had.
Thank-you, for taking the time to talk with us! Saints fans, make sure you check out their work over at Daily Norseman. You can follow them on Twitter at @DailyNorseman, and of course, as always, you can follow me on Twitter @dunnellz.