As teams begin to cut their rosters from 80 down to 53 as early as this weekend and no later than Tuesday, Aug. 31, several NFL players could be on the trade block. That means organizations around the league will be looking to their counterparts as a way to improve their own personnel.
A player that could be on the move is New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray. Reports coming out of New Orleans indicate that Murray has been passed on the depth chart by second-year undrafted free agent Tony Jones Jr., and is no longer the team’s RB2. Murray is unlikely to accept being the RB3, and the Saints are even less likely to have interest in paying a veteran such as himself to play such a reserve role.
It’s easy to understand why teams may identify this as an opportunity to improve their own running back room. Murray is a proven commodity that rushed for 656 yards and four touchdowns a year ago. With that said, let’s examine some teams that should inquire about trading for Murray.
Would the Saints be willing to make a trade with their fierce division rivals? The Falcons enter the season with a pair of exciting pass-catchers in Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts, but have considerably less talent at the running back position.
Mike Davis is the RB1 one as things stand, but the sample size of him playing in a full-time role is relatively small. Davis had a career-best 165 carries in Carolina last season after Christian McCaffrey went down with an injury. It marked just the second time Davis has crossed the 100-touch threshold during his six-year career. There are reasons to be excited about what Davis can do as the starter—he flashed at times last year—but this depth chart leaves a lot to be desired.
In Atlanta’s first preseason game, no running back rushed for more than 18 yards. In their second contest, rookie undrafted free agent Caleb Huntley led the team in rushing on just six carries. The Falcons also have Cordarrelle Patterson, Qadree Ollison, D’Onta Foreman, and Keith Smith on the roster. Yikes.
Arthur Smith leaned on a 2,000-yard rusher as the offensive coordinator in Tennessee last season but doesn’t have anything that even resembles that kind of talent at running back in Atlanta. Trading for Murray would bring stability to a place and position that badly needs it right now.
NEW YORK JETS
I’m really excited about what rookie running back Michael Carter could do in New York. He was a pleasure to watch at North Carolina and really impressed us during his visit to our Draft Networking Series.
With that said, the Jets need to surround rookie quarterback Zach Wilson with as much talent as possible. Relying on too many rookies or unproven talents could be a recipe for a disaster. A successful running game is often a young quarterback’s best friend. We’re really starting to see the logic in this destination.
Tevin Coleman is listed as the RB1 on the depth chart for now, but has carried the ball just four times for 19 yards through two preseason games. Pair that with the fact Coleman was limited to just 28 carries a year ago due to injury, and it’s easy to see that he hasn’t been very reliable as of late. Ty Johnson is a sneaky good player here and TDN’s own Jaime Eisner recently tried telling you this. La’Mical Perine and his 4.62 40-yard dash is also present.
What do all of these guys have in common? They don’t even combine to have the reliability that Murray could provide. Make it happen, Joe Douglas.
Few people in the league know what Murray is capable of like new Lions head coach Dan Campbell does. Campbell spent the past few years with Murray in New Orleans while pulling double duty as the team’s assistant head coach and tight ends coach.
The Lions appear to be pretty set at running back on paper with D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams, but both ball-carriers have been banged up throughout training camp. Campbell recently expressed concern with Swift’s injury and conditioning.
With what’s likely to be a stop-gap option at quarterback in Jared Goff, it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the Lions tried to lean on an improved rushing attack in 2021. Availability is your best ability and the Lions are going to need their running backs to be healthy. Acquiring Murray for a late, conditional day-three pick would give the Lions plenty of insurance in that area.