Head coach Mike Zimmer said he doesn't necessarily know if Murray (ankle) is a three-down back, Chris Tomasson of The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Murray is a strong pass blocker with good size and solid hands, but he's never been particularly explosive or evasive and doesn't break nearly as many tackles as one would expect of a 225-pound running back. While capable of staying on the field in any situation, he's essentially a jack-of-all-trades and master of none. The Vikings would ideally want to pair their offseason addition with a more explosive runner -- perhaps even hoping Jerick McKinnon can be that complement. If not McKinnon, the team could address its backfield in a draft that's strong at the position, though the offensive line is a more pressing concern. Signed to a three-year deal in mid-March, the 27-year-old Murray is expected to miss Minnesota's offseason program after having surgery last week to remove bone spurs. He should be back to full strength for the start of training camp, and he's a clear favorite to take the team's first snap of the season.
Murray's ankle surgery was related to bone spurs, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. Less than a week removed from signing up with the Vikings, Murray went under the knife Wednesday for an issue that became known during a mandated physical. He's expected to be healthy in time for training camp, but his absence from the offseason program could put him behind the eight ball as he attempts to build a rapport with quarterback Sam Bradford and the rest of the offense. Throughout three seasons with the Raiders, he averaged 4.2 YPC and gathered in 91 of 119 targets (76.5 percent). Typically, sure hands would indicate that he's poised for a three-down role, but Jerick McKinnon has experience within the system, while the Vikings are a candidate to select a running back in April's draft, two factors that may place a damper on Murray's expectations.
Murray underwent ankle surgery Wednesday, the Vikings' official site reports. Per the Vikings, the issue was revealed during Murray's physical prior to signing with the team last week. The extent nor the severity has been revealed, but he's expected to be ready by the start of training camp, thereby wiping away a large portion of the implementation of the offense due to his absence from the offseason program. Nonetheless, Murray isn't expected to be a true workhorse in the vein of the player he's slated to replace -- Adrian Peterson -- but the 27-year-old boasts steady receiving skills, reeling in 91 of 119 targets during three seasons with the Raiders. With the knowledge of Wednesday's surgery, expect the Vikings to tab another RB in next month's NFL Draft.
The decision to sign Murray signals a shift in the Vikings' offensive philosophy, ESPN.com reports. Long centered around Adrian Peterson's powerful legs, the Minnesota offense was forced to change last season while dealing with the combination of Peterson's absence and poor play along the line. Murray's addition hints at a continued move toward a modern pass-oriented scheme, as the former Raider brings a versatile skill set that includes strong pass blocking and solid hands -- but he doesn't have the elusiveness or tackle-breaking ability to put an offense on his back. Regardless of whether Sam Bradford or Teddy Bridgewater (knee) is under center, the Minnesota passing game likely will have to carry the offense in 2017. Murray will be joined in the backfield by Jerick McKinnon, who managed just 3.4 yards per carry in Peterson's absence last year. The 27-year-old Murray has a lot to play for, as his three-year contract can be voided after the first season. The Vikings may also bring in more help via the draft rather than fully relying on Murray and McKinnon to carry the load.
Minnesota signed Murray to a three-year deal early Thursday, the Vikings' official site reports. The Vikings have officially moved on from the Adrian Peterson era with the move. During his three-season stint with the Raiders, Murray recorded a 1,000-yard campaign in 2015, while ranking fifth in the NFL with 12 rushing touchdowns last year. His contract with the Vikings can be voided after one season, per Field Yates of ESPN, so Murray in essence received a prove-it deal.
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