The Buffalo Bills added size and veteran leadership to their running back room when they signed 33-year-old Latavius Murray on May 1.
But one insider said he believed Murray may not have a spot on the final 53-man roster to start the season, with the Bills instead finding another place in the organization for the former Pro Bowler. Nick Wojton of USA Today’s Bills Wire made an early projection of the team’s final roster, pegging Murray as a likely cut.
Bills Could Have Other Plans for Latavius Murray
Murray and recent undrafted free agent pickup Isaiah Bowser are two of the best power rushers on the roster, it may not be enough to earn a spot on the active roster. The move would be a surprise to some. But Wojton wrote that the Bills may look to instead keep Murray on the practice squad as an insurance policy in case of injury to Damien Harris or another runner higher on the depth chart.
“Murray is the interesting piece here. In signing Harris, Murray, and even Bowser, there’s a desire to be better on short-yardage situations,” he wrote.
“However, Murray is the type of vet the Bills probably feel they can sneak on their practice squad and then sign to the active roster if someone tries to swoop in for him. Just last season, he was on the New Orleans Saints practice squad for an extended time and no one nabbed him until the Denver Broncos had a rash of injuries.”
The Bills have followed that blueprint before. Last season, they kept veteran running back and kick returner Duke Johnson on the practice squad throughout the season.
Latavius Murray Could Hold Roster Advantage
As Wojton noted, Murray could have an advantage in his size. The Bills had a relatively small running back group last season, and general manager Brandon Beane expressed a desire to bring in more size this offseason.
Murray appeared to be a big part of that. When the team announced Murray’s signing on May 1, they noted his effectiveness in short-yardage situations.
“The 6-3, 230-pound back, who has averaged 4.2 yards per carry in his career, is a bruising tailback who can push the pile in short yardage and break tackles for extra yards,” the team noted. “Murray has largely been part of committee backfields in his career but does have one 1,000-yard rushing season when he rushed for 1,066 yards in 2015.”
The Bills also appear to have given Murray some roster assurances. Beane said that prior to the NFL Draft, while they were still negotiating with the free-agent Murray, they told him that if he would sign with the team, they would not draft a running back.
“That was actually done while we were still drafting,” Beane said, via NewYorkUpstate.com. “I reached out to his agent on Saturday and I was like, ‘There’s still some backs I can draft, but I could use some picks elsewhere at some different positions if you’ll go ahead and do this deal. I won’t draft a running back.’ ”
Though he has reached an age when most running back careers have ended, Murray was still effective in 13 games last season for the Denver Broncos and New Orleans Saints, rushing for 760 yards and six touchdowns.