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Latavius Murray’s 3-year deal with Vikings reads more like 1-year tryout

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Being a free agent running back is not what it used to be. Once upon a time, if a running back who scored 12 touchdowns last season and was a season removed from a 1000-yard Pro Bowl season would be in high demand and receive a long term commitment to match it. Latavius Murray just found out that isn’t the case anymore.

The Raiders made it clear from the start of the offseason, they were perfectly fine with Murray testing the market to find his worth. That is to say, he wasn’t going to find it in Oakland.

At 27 years old, Murray was looking at more than likely his one and only long term free agent deal. A running back’s shelf life ends at 30 these days, so the Vikings gave him what, on the surface is a 3-year $15 million deal. That’s $5 million a season, which is not too bad by today’s running back standards.

But a closer look at the details reveals it to be rather one-sided in favor of the Vikings.

Guaranteed money isn’t even what it used to be. Only $3.4 million of the $8.55 million guaranteed in Murray’s contract is due the first year. The other $5.15 million would kick in if he were retained after year one.

So, if the Vikings have buyer’s remorse after 2017, they can cut him to keep from paying the rest of his contract. If he plays well, they will have him right up to the his 30th birthday on January 18, 2020.