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2019 Buffalo Bills scouting report: running back Marcus Murphy

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The return man and change-of-pace back suddenly appears to be on the outside looking in

Buffalo Bills v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Buffalo Bills boasted one of the league’s best rushing attacks from 2015-2017. Spearheaded by a mobile quarterback and a future Hall-of-Fame running back, the Bills finished tops in the league in rushing yards per game in 2015 and 2016 before finishing sixth in 2017.

In 2018, the Bills had that same future Hall-of-Fame running back and a different mobile quarterback. They still finished in the top ten in the league in rushing yards, but the production from their actual running backs dropped significantly. As a result, the team has invested resources in the offseason directed at improving production from that group.

In our latest edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we look at one of the backs who finds his roster spot in jeopardy thanks to the new additions to the squad.

Name: Marcus Murphy

Number: 22

Position: RB

Height/Weight: 5’8” 195 lbs.

Age: 27 (28 on 10/3/19)

Experience/Draft: 4 years; drafted in the 7th round (230 overall) by the New Orleans Saints in 2015 NFL Draft

College: Missouri

Acquired: Signed to Bills’ practice squad 11/6/17

Financial situation (per Spotrac): Murphy enters the final year of a three-year deal signed in 2017. He will count $720,000 against the salary cap if he makes the roster, and there is no guaranteed money on his deal.

2018 Recap: Murphy was fourth on the Bills in rushing last year, gaining 250 yards on 52 carries. His 4.8 yards-per-carry average was tops among Buffalo running backs, and the yardage total was a career high. He also caught 11 passes for 26 yards. On special teams, Murphy returned two punts for 15 yards and 13 kicks for 324 yards.

Positional outlook: Murphy finds himself on the outside of a suddenly crowded offensive backfield. With LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore competing to start and receive the most carries, the real competition will be for the third and fourth spots on the roster. Third-round draft choice Devin Singletary is a lock to make the roster, and free-agent acquisition T.J. Yeldon provides the team with experience and success at the NFL level, as well as another commodity for Buffalo at the position: youth. Senorise Perry offers special-teams value, but little else. International signee Christian Wade will be on the practice squad unless he absolutely dominates during camp and the preseason.

2019 Offseason: Murphy’s 2018 season ended on injured reserve due to a dislocated elbow, an injury from which he has recovered.

2019 Season outlook: Unless something happens to the players ahead of him on the depth chart, it appears that Murphy’s time with the Bills may be at an end. Unless McCoy is traded or released, or he and Gore are injured, it’s unlikely that Murphy will crack the roster. That leaves him battling with Singletary, who is the likely heir-apparent as the starting running back, Yeldon, and Perry. Yeldon is a better offensive player while Perry is a much more useful special-teams player. Murphy will most likely be auditioning throughout the preseason for a roster spot elsewhere.