When the Dallas Cowboys chose to let DeMarco Murray leave town and head to the rival Philadelphia Eagles — who were offering a massive contract — few expected that he’d be on the trade market less than one year later. While we originally mentioned a few teams who could potentially sign Murray if he were no longer an Eagle, the better question might be if any teams would trade for him (and his massive contract) after seeing a down year? Well, we know the Eagles are willing to make a deal, according to NFL.com’s Marc Sessler, so let’s get into it.
Murray signed a five-year, $40 million contract with $18 million guaranteed last offseason. The contract includes $7 million guaranteed this coming season, with $2 million more guaranteed in 2017. Basically, if any team chooses to bring Murray to town, they had better have some cap space and be ready to take the risk that would come along with the trade. So, while there may be a market of potential interested trade suitors, there are a couple key issues to factor in here.
What type of trade value would Murray bring?
This actually might be the most interesting question in our eyes. While someone might decide to give Murray the opportunity and take the risk, it’s hard to imagine someone giving up much more than a fourth-round (or later) pick. Murray is only 28 years old. However, it’s not only his decline in production that hurt him, but the fact that he had 392 carries back in 2014 as well.
Murray has a lot of tread on his tires, even if he’s only played in five seasons. Expect to see a team or two make the call on Murray, but if the Eagles decide to trade him for a late-round draft pick, it’s essentially admitting to a huge mistake. Are they willing to do that in return for very little? Probably, but his actual trade value will be one of the biggest questions for a potential deal.
Will his decline in production from 2015 continue?
Let’s talk production. After averaging 4.7 yards-per-carry in 2014 with the Cowboys and never falling below 4.1 yards in his entire career, the numbers took a huge turn last season. Murray played in 15 of Philadelphia’s 16 games, but he saw just 193 carries for 702 yards (3.6 yard-per-carry average), with six rushing touchdowns. A positive note is that he did have 44 receptions for 322 yards and an additional score, showing that he can still get it done as a receiver out of the backfield.
It’s not so much a question of whether or not a team would be willing to give Murray a chance, as someone definitely would. The question really is would anyone take on that contract in order to give him a chance? This is where the major problem enters, but you can bet that a few teams who struggled mightily running the ball may have some interest.
Who could make the move?
If we had to pick three teams, it would be the Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, and possibly the Denver Broncos. The Lions recently parted ways with Joique Bell, meaning that the team will likely combine Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick in the run game. Abdullah shows some potential (he may need another year or two before becoming a workhorse No. 1 back) while Riddick is a much bigger player in the passing game. Murray could be interesting in a backfield with Matthew Stafford, and having Calvin Johnson in town — if he comes back –would make his life a whole lot easier.
Time to talk about the Colts. After Frank Gore in Indianapolis, there’s quite a few question marks on the depth chart. Even Gore comes with question marks, as he saw a statistical decline in 2015, posting just a 3.7 yard-per-carry average last year. While the Colts did have plenty of questions at quarterback, Gore also fell below the 1,000 yard mark for just the third time in his career. His numbers may improve with Andrew Luck under center all season, but let’s not forget that he’s also set to turn 33.
Last up, how about the defending Super Bowl champions? The Broncos have both Ronnie Hillman and C.J. Anderson poised to become free agents. With that said, there’s reason to believe they may make a change at the position and bring a guy like Murray to town. While they have a ton of other concerns currently, including re-signing Von Miller and Brock Osweiler, Murray would make for an interesting option in Denver.
Follow Jeff Smith on Twitter @JSM8ith