This article appeared in The Wall Street Journal on March 8, 2015.
Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray led the NFL in rushing with 1,845 yards last season. But as the NFL free agency period officially begins on Tuesday, history suggests Murray, the best available running back, is unlikely to duplicate what he accomplished in 2014.
Murray’s 392 regular-season carries were tied for the seventh-most in NFL history. Besides Eric Dickerson, the other running backs on the all-time top-10 list (including ties) for most carries in a season posted a total of only six 1,000-yard rushing campaigns the rest of their careers. Five of the eight rushers never again started 16 games in a single season and only two (Dickerson and Eddie George) were able to do so again more than once. It’s also worth noting that every running back on that list was in their age-26 season (Murray’s current age) or younger at the time.
RBs With The Most Carries In A Season And Their Subsequent 1,000 Yard Seasons
|Larry Johnson, KC||2006||416||0|
|Jamal Anderson, ATL||1998||410||1|
|James Wilder, TB||1984||407||1|
|Eric Dickerson, LA Rams||1986||404||3|
|Eddie George, TEN||2000||403||2|
|Gerald Riggs, ATL||1985||397||1|
|DeMarco Murray, DAL||2014||392||0|
|Ricky Williams, MIA||2003||392||1|
|Terrell Davis, DEN||1998||392||0|
|Barry Foster, PIT||1992||390||0|
|Eric Dickerson, LA Rams||1983||390||6|
Other than the strenuous workload rushing the ball last season, Murray has a couple of other major red flags. Firstly, he benefited greatly from running behind the top-ranked offensive line in football, according to Pro Football Focus. Throw in the fact that he had never been healthy for an entire 16-game season prior to 2014 and it’s likely that the next team to sign him will be setting itself up for disappointment.
(photo by J-Ham2000)