Murray is set to join the Saints on a four-year, $14.4 million contract, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. The contract suggests Mark Ingram priced himself out of the Saints' comfort zone, forcing the team to assess external options to pair with Alvin Kamara in the backfield. It's hard to sell this as anything but a downgrade from the team's perspective, but it does appear to be a decent outcome for Murray, who will now take on a complementary role in an excellent offense. Ingram averaged 11.5 carries and 2.3 targets per game in 2018, with seven touchdowns in 12 appearances. It's reasonable to expect a similar workload for Murray in 2019.
Murray is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March and is hoping for the opportunity to compete for a starting job, Andrew Krammer of The Star Tribune reports. "I want to start. I'm not content with being in a backup role," Murray said Monday. "I want to compete, and Dalvin [Cook] knows that. We push each other. That's what it's about. But I would love to be back here for that opportunity to compete." Murray seems to have enjoyed his time in Minnesota, but he'll need to look elsewhere if he's truly determined to compete for a starting job. Playing behind lead back Dalvin Cook, the 28-year-old averaged 15.2 snaps and 7.9 touches over the final eight weeks of the 2018 campaign, essentially disappearing whenever the Vikings played from behind. It's hard to imagine any franchise being excited about signing Murray as a starter, but he shouldn't have much trouble finding an opportunity to compete for work. Another season in Minnesota likely would require a hometown discount, considering the Vikings don't have a ton of cap space but do have much bigger needs than a high-end backup running back.
Murray ran for 22 yards on nine carries and added two catches for six yards during Sunday's 27-9 win over Detroit. Through 13 games with John DeFilippo calling plays, Minnesota dropped back on 62.2 percent of offensive snaps. With Kevin Stefanski now calling the shots and pledging for a return to the grind-it-out style that took the Vikings to the conference title game last season, Minnesota has dropped back on just 43.8 percent of offensive snaps over the past two weeks. That's good news for Minnesota's stable as a whole, but Dalvin Cook has been the primary beneficiary, edging out Murray 35 carries to 24. This return to pound-it-out football will face a tough test in Week 17 against a Chicago defense that ranks in the top five in the league against the run, surrendering just 3.8 yards per carry.
Murray rushed 15 times for 68 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 41-17 win over Miami. He wasn't targeted in the passing game. Murray scored Minnesota's third touchdown of the first quarter courtesy of an 18-yard run, handing his team a 21-0 lead. Playing from ahead throughout, the Vikings gave 15 carries to Murray and 19 to Dalvin Cook. Cook was the much more explosive running back with 136 rushing yards and two touchdowns, so Murray's owners will need to hope that Minnesota races out to a similar early lead against the Lions in Week 16 for Murray to have a realistic shot of replicating this performance.
Murray rushed three times for four yards in Monday night's 21-7 loss to the Seahawks. Murray was again used sparingly while working behind Dalvin Cook, whose 13 carries marked his most since Week 1. Cook also scored through the air, where Murray was not targeted once. With four or fewer carries in three of his last four outings, Murray's stock has returned to that of a backup tailback in need of an injury ahead of him to carve out more significance.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|2||09/15||@Los Angeles Rams||14||17.26|
|5||10/06||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28||21.25|
|11||11/17||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||28||21.25|
|14||12/08||San Francisco 49ers||20||19.00|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||184||736||9||23||169||0||143|