The New Orleans Saints are going with a different No. 2 running back for the 2021 season, releasing Latavius Murray after he refused to take a pay cut prior to the start of the year, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Murray was in line to be the backup running back to Alvin Kamara for Sunday's season opener versus the Green Bay Packers, but instead he will be looking for another team for this season.
Murray, who had two years remaining on his contract, had a cap number of $4.176 million this season and $4.3 million in 2022. The Saints will save $2.327 million in salary cap space with the move, crucial for a front office that was just $2.1 million under the salary cap entering the year. The 31-year-old Murray was coming off a solid season, rushing for 656 yards and averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He also recorded 23 catches for 176 yards and a touchdown.
In two seasons as Kamara's backup, Murray rushed for 1,293 yards, averaged 4.4 yards per carry and finished with 11 scrimmage touchdowns. Murray has rushed for 4,991 yards and 43 touchdowns in seven seasons while catching 185 passes for 1,294 yards and two touchdowns. He made the Pro Bowl in 2015 with the then-Oakland Raiders, rushing for 1,066 yards (his lone 1,000-yard season) and six touchdowns.
With Murray no longer in New Orleans, Kamara could see an increase in touches. He's averaged 17 touches per game in his four-year career, but averaged 18 last season.
Tony Jones Jr., who went undrafted in 2020 out of Notre Dame, is now listed as the No. 2 running back on the Saints depth chart, so his role should increase as the top option behind Kamara. Dwayne Washington is listed third.
Murray isn't the lone name running back the Saints released over the past week, letting go of Devonta Freeman ahead of 53-man roster cuts.
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