The Tennessee Titans announced on Thursday afternoon that RB DeMarco Murray has been released from the team after two seasons.
An offseason move that has been hinted at since the playoffs has finally happened: RB DeMarco Murray has been cut by the Tennessee Titans. Murray had a $6.5M cap hit if he was kept on the roster, so this was a move that many around the league believed was inevitable.
Murray was brought to Nashville as part of GM Jon Robinson’s first big move as the new head of the Titans’ personnel. Robinson swapped fourth round picks in order to secure Murray, who was coming off a horrid first year in Philadelphia after a historic season with the Dallas Cowboys. Murray was miscast in a horizontal running scheme directed by Chip Kelly. Robinson was hoping a return to a more traditional, run-first offense would give Murray a rebirth.
His intuition was correct.
In his first season with the Titans, Murray ran for 1287 yards and nine touchdowns on 293 carries, to go along with 377 yards and three touchdowns on 53 catches. The stellar season as the main piece of a surprisingly effective exotic smashmouth offense earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl.
With super athletic and at times dominant Derrick Henry waiting in the wings, the duo was expected to take on a more even split in Murray’s second season with the team. That eventually happened, but mainly due to Murray suffering from a multitude of injuries that he tried to play through. Hand, knee and hamstring injuries all hampered Murray at one point or another in his second full year in Nashville. It was extremely clear that Murray wasn’t himself, yet the coaching staff continued to make him active on game days and give him carries.
Murray finished his 2017 season with just 659 rushing yards at a 3.6 yards per carry clip. To make matters worse, an MCL injury in the second-to-last game of the season knocked him out of all remaining regular season and playoff games.
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While it’s possible Murray was simply rendered ineffective because of the injuries, his previous injury history, his upcoming cap number and the fact that he just turned 30 all likely played a role in his release. Murray could theoretically be brought back for a cheaper number later in the offseason, but he’ll more than likely look for a starting job somewhere else.
Murray’s contributions for the Titans in just two seasons were massive. He helped turn around a team that had no identity, both on and off the field. No Titans fan should feel any ill-will towards a true consummate professional like Murray.
With Murray out of the picture for now, Henry will be the lead dog. But as many fans have noticed over his first two years in the NFL, he is not quite polished as a pass protector and pass catcher. The Titans should be looking for a receiving back in free agency or the draft.