Pro Football Focus is writing a series about the best and worst contracts at each position in the NFL. Last week they highlighted how two NFC East quarterbacks have bad contracts. Now they're reviewing the running back position. There aren't any NFC East players on the list this time, but two former Eagles players made the cut. DeMarco Murray checks in at second worst.
Years remaining: Four
Average remaining cap hit (per year): $6.38 million
Year he can realistically be cut: 2018
A new environment could bring out the best in an obviously-talented DeMarco Murray, but he cannot be absolved of responsibility for a dreadful 2015 season. Upon his trade to the Titans, Murray renegotiated a four-year, $25.5 million deal with $12 million guaranteed. The new contract pays him the seventh-most among RBs in terms of average money per season and average guaranteed dollars per season. That’s a hefty sum for PFF’s third-worst-graded running back from a year ago. Schematic adjustments and fatigue both contributed to the stark regression of 2014’s rushing leader, but Murray also deserves criticism. His average yardage per rush fell from 4.7 to 3.6, yards after contact per attempt from 2.5 to 2.0, and he broke 46 fewer tackles (71 to 25). His cap hits for the next three years are $12 million, $6 million, and $3 million. Needless to say, the Titans are gambling on a major bounce-back from Murray.
As if Eagles fans could forget, Murray was so, so terrible last season. Chip Kelly's decision to sign him was a disaster. It's nothing short of amazing that the Eagles were able to unload his bad contract on the Titans ... and pick up a fourth round pick swap in the process.
There's been some talk about how Murray might bounce back in a "conventional" offense but I won't buy it until I see it. Murray looked flat out cooked last season after coming off that big workload in 2014. The effort was also questionable at times.
Checking in at No. 4 on the list of worst running back contracts is none other than Philadelphia's all-time leading rusher ... LeSean McCoy.
Years remaining: Four
Average remaining cap hit (per year): $8.51 million
Year he can realistically be cut: 2019
LeSean McCoy also falls into the category of productive, yet overpaid. The Bills did not give up much in the trade with the Eagles (Kiko Alonso), but were required to make a significant financial investment. McCoy negotiated a five-year, $40 million deal with $18.25 million guaranteed at the start of 2015. As mentioned above, it’s the second-most expensive contract on a per-year basis. McCoy’s $3.65 million guaranteed per season is also third-most. In addition, he can’t be cut for a cap saving until 2019, incurring $15.3, $7.88, and $5.25 million in dead money if released in the ensuing three years. McCoy did not have a bad 2015 season in Buffalo, forming an effective one-two punch with Karlos Williams, but he still ended the year as only our 18th overall running back (78.9 overall grade). He carried 203 times for 895 yards and three touchdowns, breaking 34 tackles. Despite a solid overall season, McCoy will need to crack the top 10 to make his expensive contract a worthwhile investment.
Philadelphia's decision to trade Shady last offseason wasn't so bad as much as the return they got for him was. Alonso was a big bust for the Eagles. With that said, McCoy really hasn't turned in elite production since leading the NFL in rushing in 2013. The former Eagles back turns 28 this offseason and the Bills can't cut him until right before he turns 31.
It's been discussed ad nauseam how the Eagles don't have a very desirable running back situation heading into the 2016 season. While that's true, the good news is they're not severely overpaying a declining player at the position. The Birds will have an opportunity to upgrade the running back position through the 2017 NFL Draft, which projects to feature a lot of good rushing talent.