While not finalized as of this writing, it appears as though ill-fitted Philadelphia running back, DeMarco Murray, has been traded to the Tennessee Titans.
Compensation was not yet communicated but is believed to involve draft picks, presumably in the upcoming 2016 NFL Draft.
It’s no secret that Murray wanted out of Philadelphia following his dismal 2015 campaign in which he rushed for a near-career low 702 yards, six touchdowns and a career low 3.6 ypc. average. The rhetoric streaming from the City of Brotherly Love, earlier today in fact, said otherwise but the writing on the wall and common sense suggested greener pastures were desired. After shockingly trading LeSean McCoy to Buffalo during last year’s off-season, Chip Kelly quickly added Ryan Mathews shortly before also acquiring Murray – a curious combination. What followed was the realization that Murray was an extremely poor fit for the offensive system which favored Mathews’ style far more than Murray’s gap-read downhill style. In the end, Kelly wouldn’t even see the end of the season before being shown the door.
Now, Chip Kelly finds himself in San Francisco, replaced by Chiefs offensive coordinator, Doug Pederson and Murray appears to have successfully made his way to Tennessee where he will be the lead back in an offense featuring many young play-makers.
Lets examine the impact to a few players:
DeMarco Murray, RB PHI
Murray’s move to the Titans should give his fantasy owners hope. While they don’t boast the offensive line of Dallas, which aided Murray’s huge 2014 season,the Titans will certainly lean heavily on Murray, something that didn’t happen during his single season with the Eagles. Murray lost touches to Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles and others and at one point, was even demoted to fourth string. There are no such threats to Murray’s carries in Tennessee. He should immediately regain a spot in the top ten within his position and return to a much greater degree of consistent production.
Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, RB PHI
The brittle Mathews proved to be a much better fit in Chip Kelly’s system and Darren Sproles, though 32 years of age, continued to be a valuable complement. Unless the Eagles add a running back in free agency or via the draft in late April, one must move Mathews up in rankings. Mathews averaged a career best 5.1 ypc. in 13 games but only saw 106 totes, second lowest in his career. Should he remain healthy, upside is possible but he has yet to show that he can stay off the trainer’s table. As for Sproles, he’ll likely continue to receive less than ten touches per game and offers limited flex appeal in PPR systems.
David Cobb, RB TEN
That hissing sound you hear is the air coming out of the David Cobb balloon.
The acquisition of Murray crushes the hopes of Cobb owners seeking to see the sophomore player carve out a greater role in 2016. Cobb returned from injury in mid November and saw spot duty until the last game of the year when he tallied 73 yards on 19 carries. On the year, Cobb could only amass 146 yards on 52 carries, good for a meager 2.8 ypc. average and a single touchdown. Cobb will now need to be content as a short-yardage role and as a dreaded change of pace back. Neither he nor his fantasy owners will be happy with this event.
Antonio Andrews, RB TEN
Andrews saw an increasing role as 2015 trudged on. He ended the year with 520 yards on 143 carries and while his 3.6 ypc. average was less than stellar, he showed increasing versatility as his experience grew. Fantasy owners were holding out hope that he’d be given another chance to be the starter when the 2016 season opened. Should this trade be processed and approved by the league, those hopes are dashed and Andrews will now have to fight for the back up role and, likely six to eight touches per game. It’s possible that he or Cobb will be on the trade block following completion of the Murray trade.
Bishop Sankey, RB TEN
If there was anyone still holding out hope that Sankey could somehow get another chance to be the bell-cow in Tennessee, which was a pipe dream, it’s over now. Sankey only tallied 193 yards on 47 carries and saw his role reduced significantly in the shadows of both Antonio Andrews and David Cobb. There’s little light at the end of the tunnel and Sankey’s remaining value is now rooted in trade scenarios.
Marcus Mariota, QB TEN
Say what you will about Mariota as a quarterback but one must admit he outperformed nearly all expectations in 2015. Completing 62% of his passes for 19 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions was impressive for the quirky rookie. Adding 252 yards and two touchdowns on the ground was an additional bonus that could be bolstered by the acquisition of Murray. This remains to be seen, however. On the surface, Murray’s inclusion in the offense should move the safeties closer to the line of scrimmage and potentially allow for greater passing efficiency to the Titans’ receiving corps. In any case, additional weapons in the system bodes well for better production across the board for the offense as a whole and Tennessee fans.
Free agency has yet to kick off and we’re already reporting on exciting acquisitions. The addition of DeMarco Murray hopefully stoked the fire of the up-and-coming Tennessee Titans. Certainly, Murray owners are feeling good with this development. It’s not often that mainstream trades offer good news for both sides but in this case, aside from Antonio Andrews, it’s a win-win scenario for fantasy owners.
I’ll be looking for at least 1,400 yards from the energized Murray in his new uniform with double-digit touchdowns as well, both would be twice the realized production over 2015.
You can find Jeff on Twitter at @dlf_jeff