The Raiders were serious in their pursuit of DeMarco Murray. Was the star running back was ever serious about them?
Reported details of the former Dallas Cowboy’s quest for gainful employment suggest the answer is: probably not.
Murray’s camp turned uninspired options into a boom market that eventually resulted in an agreement with Philadelphia on a five-year, $42 million contract with $21 in guarantees, per multiple reports.
That’s big money to play for an Eagles team that agreed to employ Ryan Mathews the day before. It was a match born of a cold call from Murray to head coach Chip Kelly that ended up spurning a division rival.
Where, you may ask, were the Raiders in all this? They were firmly in the mix, a league source said, with a contract offer deemed highly competitive. At one point, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Ed Werder on Wednesday afternoon, the Raiders were offering the most money of teams vying for his services. That list included Dallas, Philadelphia, Oakland and Jacksonville.
It’s uncertain whether that offer was better than what Murray ultimately got in Philadelphia. It seems likely that the Raiders, with so much salary cap space available and a willingness to spend, helped elevate Murray’s market value.
[BAIR: Evaluating the Raiders' pursuit of DeMarco Murray]
Murray said that, ultimately, his decision was about more than total dollars.
"It was never about the money in any situation," Murray told ESPN.com's Todd Archer. "If it was the money, I could've taken that a long time ago on a very high deal. It's about winning a Super Bowl and being fair."
Of the teams involved, the Raiders did not offer the best chance to win right away.
Murray’s decision represents another missed attempt to grab a big-name free agent that can help sell tickets. It is not, by any stretch, the end of the world.
That said, the Raiders are still looking to add depth at running back alongside Latavius Murray. The free-agent pickings have gotten slim, with Justin Forsett re-upped in Baltimore and Mark Ingram in New Orleans. C.J. Spiller is drawing interest in from New Orleans and New England.
Adrian Peterson might be had in trade from Minnesota. The Raiders could absorb Peterson's massive contract and re-unite him with coordinator Bill Musgrave, who called plays for him during salad days with the Vikings.
CSN Philadelphia reported Thursday morning that Mathews hasn’t signed his contract with the Eagles, so he could back out and become available again.
The NFL draft could be a strong resource in this endeavor, especially with other positions requiring a free agent’s touch.