New York Giants: Landing DeMarco Murray Is Plan B


Free agency has not gone well for the New York Giants or Jerry Reese during the surreal “legal tampering” period of the past few days.  The team has lost out on a number of its targeted “A” players (Ndamukong Suh, Devin McCourty) and has now begun to see some of its plan “B” options (Jerry Hughes, Brandon Graham) disappear, as well.  The team stands on the brink of being completely shut out, failing to acquire any impact player it had coveted this off-season.  Walking away empty-handed would be a serious blow to a franchise that had committed to a win-now approach this season, especially given some of the questionable moves made by division rivals Dallas and Philadelphia this week.

Fortunately, there is one plan “B” option ripe for the picking that is just as good as any plan “A” the Giants had scripted.  His name is DeMarco Murray.

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I asked ESPN insider and Giants beat writer Dan Graziano via Twitter on Monday why it was that, despite the Giants’ glaring need at running back and the fact that Murray’s apparent cost and perceived market value have dropped so steeply and inexplicably, the Giants seemingly have no apparent interest in the 27-year-old, star running back.  Graziano responded, “[b]ecause at worst, he gets $5-$6M/yr, and Giants aren’t spending that on a RB.”  Simple enough. Seemed to make sense.

But does it?

It has become fashionable in today’s quarterback-driven NFL to declare running backs passe.  Overrated.  Interchangeable.  Not worth $5 to $6 million per season.  But does this hold true for even the most dominant of players at the position?  Even if the role and impact of running backs were as greatly diminished as some experts claim  –and I have my doubts–  the theory could not possibly apply to all-world playmakers like LeSean McCoy, Murray, and Marshawn Lynch.  Each can dominate a game just as capably as a quarterback.

Some of the same experts who are now prematurely declaring the “death of the running back” threw their arms up over “the worst play call in Super Bowl history” a few short months ago.   It’s hard to miss the irony.  Many of the experts who  now perpetuate the myth that running backs are no longer very important are the first to admit that the Seahawks would have won the Super Bowl this season had they gone to Beast Mode instead of throwing a pass.  And it’s not because the pass didn’t work out.  It’s not even because a run in that spot is generally the higher percentage play.  It’s the wide recognition by fans and media alike about just how dominant Lynch is.

Think about that name.

Beast Mode.

Beast Mode.

They don’t call kickers things like that.

Lynch was all-but-guaranteed to score on that play, in the eyes of, well, almost everyone.  It boggles the mind that experts (and teams) don’t concede that dominance during free agency.  It’s a perceptual anomaly that seems confined nowadays only to running backs.  At almost every other position, utter dominance is recognized and rewarded.  Not so for ball carriers.  The lack of appreciation makes even less sense for those dominant backs who excel at both rushing and receiving.  How could a dual offensive threat not be worth the cost of one dominant position player, such as a wide receiver who, generally only contributes to one of those game aspects? Strange. But that is the contention.

Jan 4, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray (29) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the third quarter in the NFC Wild Card Playoff Game at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Murray won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award in 2014 and was among the leading candidates for the NFL MVP award.   It is confounding that those who saw what he did last season (1,845 yards rushing, 13 rushing touchdowns, 2,261 total yards from scrimmage) could view him now as somehow interchangeable, or credit his dominance mainly to the Cowboy’s superb offensive line.

It’s easy to forget that Murray rushed for even more yards per carry in both the previous season and in 2011, when the offensive line had far more issues.  Murray also excels as a pass-catcher, grabbing 57 balls for 416 yards in 2014, making him a lethal dual threat.

DeMarco Murray is a dominant force and a dynamic playmaker.  To a team that is in dire need of a playmaking running back  –a crew that has even had trouble completing screen passes –screen passes!– in recent seasons, shouldn’t that be worth $5 or $6 million a year?

The Giants Professor says: Landing DeMarco Murray would be a game-changer for this franchise.  The move would harm division champion Dallas as much as it would improve the Giants’ offense and there’s something to be said for accomplishing both goals with one fell swoop.  The Giants should strike while the iron is hot and swipe Murray from the Cowboys.

Next: New York Giants: 5 Realistic Free Agency Options

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