There is no other reason to cut a player that is coming off an impressive season.
As Alvin Kamara’s backup, Murray rushed for 656 yards and four touchdowns.
The 31-year-old running back also caught 23 balls for 176 yards and a touchdown.
His 88.5 percent catch percentage was the highest in his seven-year career.
Saints could’ve asked Latavius Murray to take a pay cut in March. Probably expected he wouldn’t, but would’ve had options in FA. They ask him to take a pay cut 5 days b4 season starts. Thinking his bck is against the wall and would say yes. He says no and gets released. #DIRTY
— shannon sharpe (@ShannonSharpe) September 7, 2021
Meanwhile, his 4.5 yards per carry is second to his rookie season, wherein he averaged 5.2 yards per attempt.
Murray had two years left on the four-year, $14.4 million contract he signed in 2019.
However, refusing a pay cut was the final blow in his New Orleans tenure.
The Saints will save an additional $2.3 million in cap space for 2021, which is important because they were only $2.1 million under the cap before the move.
Saints are releasing RB Latavius Murray, per source. They asked for a pay reduction yesterday and he refused. Murray is coming off his best season, averaging 4.5 yards per carry and 7.7 yards per catch.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 7, 2021
On the other hand, Murray is on the open market and will field several suitors.
Here are the teams that can use his services the most.
3. Carolina Panthers
Murray and Christian McCaffrey are a backfield tandem that other NFL teams do not want to encounter.
As one player takes a breather, the other can keep pounding the ground until they score points.
Having Murray will add another option in the passing game that can boost Sam Darnold’s confidence.
The former New York Jets quarterback and go for a screen pass to Murray if the defense calls blitz.
Don't. Miss. Out.
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) September 7, 2021
Darnold can also call for a run play and let Murray deliver the yards if those options fail.
Head coach Matt Rhule can add another dimension to his offense by acquiring Murray.
On a tactical note, Murray can divulge more information about the Saints offense to give Carolina an advantage during their divisional matchups.
The Panthers can easily offer what Murray was earning with New Orleans, given their $21 million cap space.
It could be the move that can gets the Panthers a shot in getting a fringe playoff spot.
2. Washington Football Team
Here is another team with realistic playoff expectations.
Washington won the NFC East thanks to a reliable offense and punishing defense.
They gave up the second-least yards per game last season at 304.6, which trails the Los Angeles Rams’ 281.9.
Now, it’s time to upgrade the offense by adding another weapon, and Murray could be that guy.
𝘼 𝙣𝙚𝙬 𝙛𝙤𝙚 𝙝𝙖𝙨 𝙖𝙥𝙥𝙚𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙙 pic.twitter.com/CAfbnXtklf
— Washington Football Team (@WashingtonNFL) September 7, 2021
He and J.D. McKissic can be the variable options that will keep opposing defenders guessing.
Antonio Gibson also needs all the help he can get in the run game as Washington ranked 27th in rushing yards per contest at 100.7.
Their solid offensive line can open holes for their running backs all game.
Money-wise, Washington can sign Murray without hiccups, given their $14 million cap space.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers
It is an anomaly to see the Steelers struggling to run the ball.
But that’s how their season went, which made them embrace the short passing game uncomfortably.
Pittsburgh ranked last in rushing yards per game with 84.4 per game.
They did address that concern by drafting Alabama’s Najee Harris.
🗣🗣 DRAFT NAJEE HARRIS pic.twitter.com/LkqswQWZcV
— PFF (@PFF) September 1, 2021
Why stop there, though, if they can get a proven warrior in Murray?
Plug the former Saint in, and there is no way that their run game will not improve.
The Steelers can solidify their position on top of the AFC North if they can pull this move.
They have $10 million in cap space to make it happen.