Carolina has traded for former Oakland Raider WR Louis Murphy, the team announced Monday. The traded pick appears to be a conditional 7th round pick.
Murphy (6’2, 200) played collegiately for Florida, having won two SEC Championships and two National Championsips (and played with both Tim Tebow and Cam Newton). He amassed 75 receptions for UF for 1203 yards and 12 TD (starting the final two years and being a senior captain. He was a product of Lakeland (St. Petersburg) high, where he he was a quarterback and power forward, and anchored the 4x100 relay team that was Florida state champions.
After running a 4.32 at combine, Murphy was a 4th round pick for Oakland in 2009, and in three years had 90 receptions for 1371 yards/6 TD, and 143 rushing yards for 1 TD on 13 attempts. The best year was 2010, when he led the team with 41 receptions for 603 yards and two scores (the other four TD came as a rookie). Those three years were under different coordinators, but were all Coryell based attacks, same as Carolina. His 15.3 yard per catch average points to him being a long-ball WR, and his versatility carrying the ball and having a history throwing it, suggests he can be helpful as a trick play guy. Oakland had some other guys who were flourishing a bit better in the new system, and that made him expendable.
So, clearly, Carolina had a logjam of young WR already, and that’s not about to go away now. Murphy tends to make sense to stay, with more experience than anyone but Steve Smith; where or how much he might play is less certain but he does appear to fall under an outside receiver, where they also tend to keep Brandon LaFell, but where they also lack depth. They have Smith, who tends to stay outisde, and LaFell from last year; they have David Gettis, who fits a similar mold as Murphy, coming off ACL injury. After that, you have seldom-used Charger alumnus Seji Ajorotutu, and practice squadder Darvin Adams, neither of which I’d expect to make the roster.
But by balancing the outside guys out, does that push out one of the slot guys (rookie Joe Adams, Armanti Edwards, Kealoha Pilares)? Honestly, I anticipated all of those three to make the roster this year. There are, at most, 6 spots on the team for WR, and the team really only used 4-5 at most – three to play WR, and one each at the return spots. With Adams taking on at least punt returning, and hopefully kick returns as well, that likely puts Edwards out. None of that trio has trade potential, since none have really played actual receiver spots.
Coach Ron Rivera wanted competition last year – and didn’t receive much of it – so clearly Murphy is a wrench thrown in to both improve and muddle the spots a bit more.
Hopefully, there haven’t been setbacks on Gettis’ knee – the team was looking toward him providing similar things to what Murphy would. Having both would be ideal, but would mean dropping the consistently problematic Edwards. Either situation is less than ideal for the balance sheets, though definitely the team must press forward and continue to improve instead of worrying about making past moves look “better”.
Still, this is why I was against dealing with yet more WR in Pilares and Adams. The team needed a player with some level of experience, which it now has; which forces out a young player who hasn’t had much time to show what he can do.