The other day I was banging on about DeMarco Murray after his release from the Tennessee Titans as I was wondering whether the Cleveland Browns should bring him in as the veteran runner for the 2018 NFL season.
I didn’t actually think they should as they have Duke Johnson and Matt Dayes in there already and, hopefully, Saquon Barkley will be added with the first or fourth overall pick of the 2018 NFL draft. That would make Duke Johnson the more senior running back on the Browns roster, and I’m happy with that.
One team that is in desperate need of fresh faces in their running backs room is the Detroit Lions. My wife is a Detriot Lions fan and we watch them every week and every week we end up shaking our heads or shouting at the TV about how they’d actually be a very good team if only they had a running game!
When Ameer Abdullah hit the field for the Lions at the beginning of his career after being taken in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft, I thought “Wow! Look at this dude. He’s awesome!”. His quick feet and the moves he put on people were incredible. Unfortunately, though, he suffered a torn ligament in his foot during a game against the Tennessee Titans in 2016 which forced him to miss the rest of the season. He’s never looked like he’s had the same potential since.
Personally, I believe it’s time to let Ameer go as 2018 will be the final year of his cheap rookie contract. If they can get something for him and let him go somewhere else for a fresh start, everybody’s happy. If they can’t get anything for him then I see no harm in keeping him for the final year of his contract.
In 2015 I thought Theo Riddick was the best receiving RB in the league and could do no wrong in my eyes. In 2016 and 2017, though, he hasn’t looked as good. He’s signed through 2019 and should be retained as their 3rd down back. Other than these guys, the Lions don’t have any recognisable names at running back as Zach Zenner has never really achieved much and neither has Dwayne Washington. They did, however, have some success with an undrafted free agent going by the name of Tion Green. This guy looked like a battler and fought for yards every step of the way. He was a player that came from nowhere and suddenly made me sit up and think “Hmm, this guy looks decent. Maybe with a little time, the Lions might have a running game”.
So, for me, the Lions currently have Theo Riddick and an undrafted young guy that no-one has really heard of that are worth anything as RB’s in Detriot. Earlier today I saw the news that new head coach Matt Patricia has decided to address this serious issue by bringing in a couple of veterans for interviews. Thes veterans are DeMarco Murray and Jonathan Stewart.
DeMarco Murray has looked good as a running back for the Dallas Cowboys and the Tennessee Titans but looked crap when he was with the Philadelphia Eagles. But, to be honest, most of the players looked crap with the Chip Kelly led Eagles once defences quickly got to grips with his gimmicky offensive scheme. Murray just wasn’t suited to it.
His time in Dallas with the Cowboys was good for him as a player as were his recent two seasons in Tennessee with the Titans. Last season, he didn’t look as good, stat-wise, but that’s because they were bringing through former 2nd round selection and Heisman Trophy winner, Derrick Henry.
Murray took the brunt of the workload off Henry during their first season there and allowed Henry to work his way into the NFL at a good pace. Last season saw the transferring of roles to the younger, not so knackered Henry, and so Murray’s stats don’t look as good but his health chart should look better than it could’ve.
This is why I think he’d be an excellent addition to the Detriot Lions for the 2018 and, maybe, 2019 season(s). If the Lions don’t take a running back in this upcoming draft, there’s something seriously wrong with the franchise. The draft class is deep with talent and if there has ever been a team in need of a quality young running back, it’s the Lions and it’s the Lions of today.
For me, the Lions need help at defensive tackle and running back the most. If they address the DT position in the first round, which I think they should as there’s more talent at RB, then they need to address the RB position in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Having Murray onboard to help bring that rookie through as he did with Derrick Henry in Tennessee, makes perfect sense. The only concern is whether he took too many knocks during his time as the starter in Tennessee. I definitely like the idea of Murray in Detroit, though.
He’s already visited the Seattle Seahawks, but another 30-year-old veteran running back to plan a visit with the Detroit Lions is former Carolina Panthers runner, Jonathan Stewart. After his release from the Panthers, where he’s spent his entire professional career to date, Stewart hits the free agency market as another veteran ousted from his former team by the rookie he’s helped to nurture. The rookie, in this case, is 2017 8th overall pick, Christian McCaffrey.
Stewart has done 10 years for the Panthers after being the 13th overall pick in the 2008 draft by them. He’s only had one 1,000-yard season but his final four with them have been productive and average somewhere around the 800-yard per season mark.
I think both of these veterans still have a lot to offer the Detroit Lions for a season or two as they bring through their chosen rookie from this draft and I’d be happy to see either of them sign with the team. If I had to choose just one, I think it’d probably be DeMarco Murray. I was harsh about him the last time he was in a contract year as I thought he would just take the money and not care. I was wrong and he has been excellent for the Titans over the past two seasons, and I hope he comes in and does the same for Matt Patricia and his Lions.