Murray restructured his contract with the Vikings, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Most of the contract restructures at this time of year merely convert base salaries into signing bonuses, pushing the cap hit into future seasons to free up room for the current year. Murray may actually have taken some form of pay cut, as his $5.1 million non-guaranteed base salary for 2018 feels a bit pricey for a guy who averaged 3.9 yards on 216 carries and 6.9 yards on 15 receptions last season. The Vikings do have a need for his services, given that Jerick McKinnon is signing with San Francisco while Dalvin Cook recovers from a torn ACL. Murray's likely role entering the season will depend on Cook's progression in the rehab process.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman suggested Wednesday that Murray isn't guaranteed to return to the team in 2018, Andrew Krammer of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. "We've discussed a lot of things," Spielman said when asked if the Vikings were set with Dalvin Cook (knee) and Murray as the team's primary running backs next season. "We're very excited, Dalvin continues to rehab. We're very excited about the progress he's making and anxious to see what we are with him in the fold along with whatever combination is there." Though Spielman didn't say explicitly that Murray wouldn't be retained, it's clear the Vikings are still weighing whether the 28-year-old is worth bringing back at a cap hit of $6.35 million for 2018, which would make him one of the higher-paid running backs in the league. While Murray gave the Vikings quality production upon stepping in as the primary back once Cook suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Week 4, finishing with a team-high 842 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, it may be difficult for the team to justify keeping Murray at that price when he would likely be limited to a complementary role behind a healthy Cook in 2018. Assuming Murray is amenable to it, the Vikings may explore approaching his representatives about restructuring his contract so he could remain with the team at a more affordable price. If Murray isn't willing to renegotiate, however, the Vikings could cut him with little repercussions before March 16, when his $5.15 million base salary for 2018 becomes guaranteed.
Murray rushed six times for 18 yards while bringing in both of his targets for 11 yards during Sunday's 38-7 loss to the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Murray struggled to find holes in the Eagles' tough run defense and his usage was blunted once the Vikings were forced to abandon the run game. He now finishes the postseason having averaged an inefficient 2.7 yards on 25 carries after averaging 3.9 yards on 216 carries during the regular season. Under contract with Minnesota for another two seasons, Murray is set to return in 2018 as the clear No. 2 runner on the depth chart behind Dalvin Cook (knee), as teammate Jerick McKinnon will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the league year.
Murray rushed 19 times for 50 yards and one touchdown while catching both of his targets for 17 yards during Sunday's 29-24 NFC divisional-round victory over the Saints. Murray surprisingly wasn't able to get much going against a Saints run defense that allowed the fifth-most yards per carry during the regular season. Teammate and fellow tailback Jerick McKinnon, who carried eight times for 34 yards and a score, was much more effective with his touches. Tougher sledding is sure to come in next week's NFC championship game against an Eagles team that's allowed just 3.8 yards this season, but it can't be ignored that Murray has averaged over four red-zone carries (with eight rushing touchdowns) per game in his past nine outings.
Murray had 20 carries for 111 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's win over Chicago. He also had one reception for three yards. Murray finishes the regular season with eight rushing touchdowns. He has eight in his last ten games after getting a larger workload after the season-ending injury to Dalvin Cook in Week 4. He should be set to get a heavy workload again in Minnesota's playoff game at home after a bye.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/09||San Francisco 49ers||19||17.75|
|2||09/16||@Green Bay Packers||16||17.38|
|4||09/28||@Los Angeles Rams||27||19.00|
|7||10/21||@New York Jets||24||18.50|
|8||10/29||New Orleans Saints||12||17.22|
|12||11/26||Green Bay Packers||16||17.38|
|13||12/02||@New England Patriots||17||17.47|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||226||899||9||30||200||0||161|