Demarco Murray led the NFL in rushing yards in 2014. And then he joined the Philadelphia Eagles via free agency, and it all went south. If it didn’t hit rock bottom during the 2015 season, the strained relationship between the two sides appears headed that way, per a report from NFL.com. In fact, the report suggests Murray and the Eagles are headed for a “stare-down” that might ultimately result in a trade, release, restructured contract or an unhappy running back still making a lot of money.
Former Eagles head coach Chip Kelly lured Demarco Murray away from the division-rival Dallas Cowboys last summer to the tune of a five-year $40 million deal. Murray, obviously, has four years left on that deal with $9 million guaranteed. If the Eagles were to outright cut the 27-year-old, it would cost them $13 million. Eagles’ management is focused on returning to a state of financial responsibility now that Kelly has moved on, and it appears unlikely they’d want to swallow that big of a cap hit. Murray appeared on a Thursday edition of SportsCenter, and did not stir the pot despite the recent report, as transcribed by NJ.com.
“I do, I do [want to be back]. Obviously, it’s something for me, that’s not the lasting impression I want to leave in my mouth and the fans and my family, anyone. I take football very, very serious, it’s my life. I love it, besides my family and my faith, obviously. I never want to leave off on a note like I did last year, so I’m working tremendously harder to try and improve from an individual standpoint and a team standpoint as well.”
Demarco Murray said all the right things publicly, but there is a philosophical class internally. Murray was not happy with his role in the Eagles’ offense last year, and even with a regime change, isn’t confident he’ll succeed in Philadelphia going forward. The Eagles’ front office might even agree with Murray, but the money remains a major road block. Even if they were to trade Murray, a significant contract-restructuring would be required. The Eagles were willing to pay Murray $8 million per season, while the Cowboys and other potential suitors seemed to set the cap at $5 million. One year later, that difference may be even wider, especially after a sub-par performance.
Aside from the Eagles and Cowboys, Demarco Murray’s main suitors during the 2015 free agency period included the Seattle Seahawks and Oakland Raiders. The NFL.com report suggests that Dallas, Seattle, and Oakland would kick the tires again if the possibility was there. Murray is building a house in Dallas and had a successful four-year run there. The Raiders already have one Murray (Latavius) in their backfield, but wouldn’t mind another if the price was right. And then there’s Seattle. An interesting choice, though the Seattle Times calls it a “long shot.” Marshawn Lynch may be retiring, but if Thomas Rawls returns healthy from a broken ankle, money might be better spent at other positions.
Demarco Murray is coming off a season in which he rushed for just 702 yards, and a career-low 3.6 yards per carry. Those were his lowest totals since 2012, when he missed six games due to injury. Yes, he’s only played in 16 games once in his career. But that year he rushed for 1,845 yards and 13 touchdowns and finished fourth in NFL MVP voting. If he’s serious about wanting to come back to Philadelphia in 2016, he might have to agree to a do-over on his contract. If he’d prefer to be traded, same rules apply. Because the Eagles are reluctant to eat $13 million and cut him, the ball may be in Murray’s court. It just depends on whether money is his main motivator.
[Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]