The Titans have a decision to make at the running back position. Do they stick with the savvy veteran in DeMarco Murray? Do they finnally make the full transition to the young, talented Derrick Henry? There are two sides to every story. My fellow writer and I are going to discuss both sides of this predicament. By the end of this article, we’d love for you to let us know what you think the Titans should do.
Reasons To Cut DeMarco Murray: Trevor Woodworth
Titans fans, I understand there are some of you out there that don’t want to see DeMarco Murray go, but it’s time. It’s time to free yourselves from him. Yes, he has some of the intangibles that Henry has not yet developed such as blocking and pass catching. It’s not the end of the world to lose that; Derrick Henry will grow as the lead back. It’s time to open up Henry and find out what the Titans have in him. For starters, let’s dive into some stats.
In 2017 Murray held the rock 184 times for 659 yards. That’s a measly 3.6 yards per carry. That tied for the lowest output of his career with 2015 in Philadelphia. In 2016 Murray carried the ball 293 times, so in just a year, Murray lost 109 carries. It’s time to face the music in Music city, Murray is just not the back he once was. One could attribute the yards difference to the fact that he only averaged 12.3 carries per game in 2017. Murray carried the ball less for a significant reason. That reasons name is Derrick Henry.
In 2017, Henry got the ball 176 times for 744 yards. That’s an average of 4.2 yards per carry, more than a half yard better than Murray on the year. Henry still got fewer attempts overall, at 11 per game. That was much closer than the 2016 numbers of Henry’s 7.3 to Murray’s 18.3. Henry is primed, and ready to take over this role. With Mike Mularkey gone, it just might be Henry’s role to lose. Mularkey always seemed to have a strange affinity to play Murray over Henry. Even doing so in times when it was quite clear Henry was the better option. Could Vrabel be ready to move on and start new with Henry?
The third and final point I want to get at in regards to moving on from Murray is simple. In 2018, Murray is set to make 6.5 million to Henry’s 1.4 million. Murray can be cut this year while the Titans take on zero dead money against their cap. This seems like a no-brainer right? Also noteworthy Henry in the last two years of his rookie deal, and you have the ability to move on from Murray. Unless Murray takes a pay-cut, his time has run out in Tennessee.
Reasons to Keep DeMarco Murray: Matt Duckworth
How can DeMarco Murray performing nearly identically to Derrick Henry in rushing totals and while playing injured be held against him? How about his clear superiority as a pass protector and a pass catcher. Cutting DeMarco Murray takes away a true three-down back from the Tennessee rushing attack. On top of that, there was a noticeable regression in the quality of interior push by the offensive line this past season. Tennessee rushed for 1833 yards this season, less than the 2187 yards they rushed for in 2016. That’s a 354-yard decrease.
With a new, more competent offensive mind in Matt LaFleur calling the offensive shots and looking to utilize quarterback Marcus Mariota more, who is to say Murray doesn’t experience a resurgence? Part of Matt LaFleur’s game is utilizing play action, which features better pass protection, and more usage of the screen, which Murray excels at. With the vision and experience of Murray in the backfield who is to say, in this offensive scheme, the Titans can’t have the best backfield in the game? Combining that and a young, improving defense under new defensive coordinator Dean Pees, keeping Murray might just put Tennessee over the top in the AFC South.
Verdict: Trevor and Matt
Look at the quality of running backs in the draft. Combine that with the quality pass-catching backs in free agency, and Murrays price tag is just too high. DeMarco Murray has clearly lost a step, has had injury concerns his entire career, and is clearly the inferior back. His value and his price tag do not match up. It’s time to cut Murray and let Derrick Henry have the keys to the Titans rushing attack. It’s time to cut DeMarco Murray.