There was a period of time where it was almost inevitable that the Buffalo Bills would acquire an “old” running back. LeSean McCoy was joined in the backfield by aged wonders like Chris Ivory and Frank Gore while other teams were supplementing their backfield with younger players.
While that time has passed, it doesn’t mean that general manager Brandon Beane is totally against acquiring veterans at what has become almost exclusively a young man’s position. The Bills have a stable of backs who are under 30 years old, with the oldest running back among their anticipated top three coming in at 26 years old.
In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we discuss the oldest player on Buffalo’s offense — and the second-oldest on the roster overall — as he tries to prove that he can still hack it as a professional running back.
Name: Latavius Murray
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 230 pounds
Age: 33 (34 on 1/18/2024)
Acquired: Signed with Buffalo on 5/1/2023
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Murray’s one-year contract is worth a total of $1,317,500 overall. Of that total, $802,500 is guaranteed. That number is the dead-cap charge Buffalo would be responsible for if he were to be released prior to the start of the season. As a vested veteran, the entirety of Murray’s base salary, which is $1.165 million, becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster for Week 1. Murray’s cap hit is $1,092,500 if he makes the team.
2022 Recap: Murray began the season without a team, but he signed with the New Orleans Saints’ practice squad on September 13. He was elevated to the active roster for one game, and he played well, carrying 11 times for 57 yards and a touchdown in the Saints’ 28-25 loss to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 4. On October 4, the Denver Broncos signed Murray to their active roster, and he was fantastic in his time with the team. He played in 12 games, starting seven, and he led the team in carries, yards, and touchdowns, rushing 160 times for 703 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 26 receptions for 124 yards in his time with Denver. It was quite a strong season for a running back at a time where most backs are slowing down. It’s not as if he started fast and wore out as the year went on, either — in the Broncos’ final game of the year, Murray rushed 15 times for 103 yards and a touchdown in a 31-28 Week 18 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Positional outlook: Murray joins James Cook, Damien Harris, Nyheim Hines, and Jordan Mims as the running backs on the roster. Reggie Gilliam is the team’s lone fullback.
2023 Offseason: Murray is healthy and participating in offseason activities.
2023 Season outlook: Murray’s case for a roster spot is an interesting one. He’s not going to top the depth chart (that’s Cook’s probable role), nor would he be the top short-yardage back (that’s probably Harris) or the top receiving back (that’s probably Hines). However, he might be the most well-rounded back of the bunch, and given the fact that he’s an absolute unit who’s showing no signs of slowing down, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the team out of camp.
The question, then, would be what position loses a player if Murray were to make the roster, which is where I start to waffle. Is it at tight end, where Buffalo would have to cut Quintin Morris and use Gilliam as the third player there? Is it at wide receiver, where Buffalo could choose to go with five wideouts instead of six? Is it along the offensive or defensive lines? I’m honestly not sure. The Bills could wager against other teams showing interest in signing a 33-year old running back and work out a deal where Murray is on the practice squad like Duke Johnson was last season.
Buffalo did keep four running backs on the roster last year, with Taiwan Jones a running back-in-name-only, as he performed exclusively on special teams. If Murray can cover kicks, he could potentially fill that role. If I were making my final roster in “Madden,” I’m keeping Murray; however, I’m not sure how the real-life Bills are going to approach it come September. I hope that Murray is with Buffalo in some capacity, though, for the 2023 season.