So the Minnesota Vikings didn’t get their guy in Eddie Lacy; what a bummer.
The 267-pound running back signed a one-year, $5.55 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks, ending any hope he’d make the short trip from Wisconsin to Minneapolis. While Lacy was surely a fit with the Vikings, he likely saw Seattle as the more lucrative destination — a run-first offense with the necessary backs to rotate and split carries.
Lacy turned down comparable offers from the Vikings and Packers, leaving Rick Spielman empty-handed once again this free agency period. Fortunately, the running back market’s been soft—thanks, pass-happy offenses—and remains abundant with talent. Spielman recognized the surfeit of options, quickly shifting focus to another high-profile player looking for a new home — Latavius Murray.
Almost immediately after news broke of Lacy’s decision to sign with the Seahawks, Adam Schefter reported Murray would be visiting the Vikings Tuesday afternoon.
Raiders' RB Latavius Murray is visiting the Vikings today, per source.
Jamaal Charles' visit to Seattle on Wednesday is still on.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2017
Murray’s quick trip comes in the wake of a slow news cycle for the former Oakland Raiders running back. He’d visited with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seahawks previously, but the Vikings appear to have the strongest interest in the 27-year-old.
KFAN’s Paul Allen was the first to note the team’s pursuit, telling a reader on Twitter he likes Murray’s fit “more for what they do here [Minnesota]” than Lacy. Allen also said he didn’t think the team would sign Lacy, and as we now know, that prediction came true.
Like Lacy, Murray’s more than suited to succeed in Pat Shurmur’s shotgun-based offense. Last season, he took 91 carries out of the alignment, gaining 383 yards and scoring four touchdowns. The 4.2 yards-per-carry average slightly betters his career average of 4.0 yards out of the shotgun, but his numbers are far superior to those of the recently-departed Adrian Peterson.
Although Murray lost touches in Oakland to a pair of younger running backs last season, he’d likely experience the same workload in Minnesota. The Vikings see Jerick McKinnon as their do-it-all back, a player with the ability to contribute out of the backfield or lined up in the slot. With a back like Murray taking carries on the early downs, McKinnon could come in and serve the Chester Taylor role on third downs.
Over his career, Murray’s carried the ball 543 times for 2,278 yards, scoring 20 touchdowns while averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The University of Central Florida back, a sixth-round pick in the 2013 draft, would immediately take over for Peterson as the Vikings’ workhorse ball carrier.
Signing Murray wouldn’t preclude the Vikings from drafting another back in this year’s deep class of talent. As it stands, McKinnon, C.J. Ham, and Bishop Sankey are the only rostered running backs; adding one or two pieces this offseason makes the most sense for a team with a historically bad rushing attack in 2016.