DeMarco Murray knew he wanted out of Philadelphia after a nightmare season with the Eagles under Chip Kelly in 2015.
The biggest part of that, of course, was finding the right fit. Murray had rushed for 1,845 yards in 2014 with the Dallas Cowboys, but had departed in free agency for the Eagles, where he quickly fell into the doghouse and rushed for just 703 yards a year ago.
At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month, trade talks began to emerge between the Eagles and Titans regarding Murray. In trying to find a new team, Murray and his agent Bill Johnson did their research to see whether or not the Titans would be the right fit. Murray even called Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis to get his opinion, since Bettis had flourished in Mike Mularkey’s offense with the Steelers a decade-and-a-half ago.
“In the end, we thought it was a perfect match for us. He did a ton of research on us, too,” Titans GM Jon Robinson said. “That’s a tribute to him and Bill Johnson, his representation. He went back and did his research on the running backs that played under Mike (Mularkey) and played under (Titans running backs coach) Sly Croom. He was convinced and we were convinced that this was going to be a pretty dang good thing”
Murray agreed, especially after speaking with Bettis, that the Titans and Mularkey could be the right landing spot for him.
“I talked with Jerome, I have somewhat of a relationship with him,” Murray said. “Obviously, he is a great player and a Hall of Famer, but it is easy to kind of just go on the Internet and look at and read things and look at videos and what not. I have done a lot of research prior to being here.”
What Murray found out was the same conclusion that Mularkey and Robinson came to – that Murray could be the right fit as Mularkey and the Titans revamp the offensive system with more emphasis on the run game, including having Marcus Mariota under center more often this year, rather than operating primarily to the shotgun.
“He fits it, exactly what we’re looking for in both the run and the pass game, and not just that but just the character and the leadership that he’s going to bring to this locker room is not measurable,” Mularkey said. “But (we’re) very happy, very happy that we’re starting off this offseason and this being really one of the first things Jon and I have been able to do together and work through and have the result of DeMarco Murray being here.”