Green Bay Packers leading contenders to land Latavius Murray

If the Packers let Eddie Lacy walk, they'll be a prime contender for Latavius Murray's services. Green Bay is +350 to sign the former Raider running back.
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Now is a good time to be Latavius Murray.

In the free agent market, NFL teams walking down the running backs' aisle are finding slim pickings on the high-priced shelves for guys in their mid-20s, the prime ages for the position.

There is Le’Veon Bell, who is almost certain to stay a Steeler, and not much else.

The Oakland Raiders reduced Murray's workload last season, divvying some of it between two rookies, and are not wedded to him.


However, both are 5-foot-8, seven inches shorter than the main man, so Raider backers should not discard their Murray jerseys just yet.

Still, Oakland is not among the probable landing spots listed by BookMaker.eu, and for good reason. The team has a whopping 13 free agents, and much of its cap space is expected to be gobbled up by lucrative contracts for Derek Carr and Khalil Mack, focal points of the offense and defense.

Like most free agents on a rising team, Murray says he'd like to stay put. But he has entered jackpot territory, a rare zone nowadays for a running back, and the intense competition for his services should result in an offer that will make him a rich(er) man.

Here are the four most likely destinations, according to BookMaker.eu, along with a short price on the Field, which consists of Oakland and 27 other teams.

From BookMaker.eu: Latavius Murray's team in Week 1 of the 2017 regular season:

Green Bay Packers +350
Jacksonville Jaguars +450
Philadelphia Eagles +1200
San Francisco 49ers +1750
Field -275

Green Bay Packers (risk $100 to win +350): The Packers outrushed only two other teams last season, and a case can be made that running back is their neediest position. Squads on the cusp of Super Bowl contention often bring out the checkbook for one player who can fill a critical void.

If they retain Eddie Lacy, which could be a long shot given his lack of reliability, Murray is off the table. But if Lacy heads out the door, it will be wide open for Murray. Lacy is 2/1 to return to Green Bay.

Jacksonville Jaguars (risk $100 to win +450): The Jags can afford him; they have the fourth-most salary cap space. And their rushing game was forgettable enough last season that quarterback Blake Bortles was within hundred yards or so of leaders T.J. Yeldon and Chris Ivory. Yet Jacksonville has never been a big spender in free agency. 

Philadelphia Eagles (risk $100 to win +1200): "Murray seen with Carson Wentz," recent headlines out of Philly have proclaimed, fueling speculation the team will try to pair the running back with its young quarterback.

Problem is, the Eagles maintain little cap space. (And Wentz, last we looked, has not been granted the power to offer contracts.) The need is indisputable, with the team expected to retain no three-down back from its roster. (Sorry, Darren Sproles.)

San Francisco 49ers (risk $100 to win +1750): These odds seem steep in light of the fact that San Fran is believed to have the second-most cap space. Plus, Murray could keep his current residence by signing with the other Bay Area team.

However, the Niners are the polar opposites of Green Bay -- miles from title contention, with numerous needs. Devoting big bucks to fill this one seems a reach.

This is a difficult one to call, which partly explains why the Field offers the smallest odds. It reflects a sense that almost every team should consider Murray before deciding the price is too steep to pay. One of them will reach a different conclusion.

Mike TierneyTop Dog