Latavius Murray knows more about his future team than the average newcomer, because the running back has seen more of his future team than the average newcomer.
Three times in the last two seasons, Murray’s Minnesota Vikings played the New Orleans Saints, twice in the regular season and once in the divisional playoffs. And the season before that, 2016, as an Oakland Raider, he got a shot at the Saints in the regular-season opener.
All of that contact made joining the Saints as an unrestricted free agent an easy call for Murray, a six-year veteran who agreed to terms on a four-year deal with the Saints.
“When you look at the success that they’ve had over the years, and how close they’ve been – me being in Minnesota, playing them three times in the past two years, and seeing what they’re capable of doing – I think it was a no-brainer,” Murray said.
So the 6-foot-3, 230-pounder will bring to New Orleans the 3,698 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns on 899 carries, and the 883 receiving yards on 128 catches, that he has accumulated in 77 games, with 48 starts. His 26 rushing touchdowns since 2016 are fourth-most in the NFL.
“I just think that Coach (Sean) Payton put those guys in a lot of different positions to go out there and be successful, and I think that’s what it’s about: Allowing the players to be able to go out there and do what they do best,” Murray said. “As an offensive player, you’ve got to love that. It’s a very explosive offense, so to come in and be a part of that and help any way I can, I’m looking forward to it.”
Murray’s size is indicative of his style.
“I’m a downhill runner, one cut and go,” he said. “I try not to do too much dancing. I like to think I have a nose for the end zone and I know how to protect the quarterback and catch the ball when it’s thrown to me. I think when you can do all those things, you’re able to have success at my position.”
Murray has a Pro Bowl season on his resume (266 carries for 1,066 yards and six touchdowns as a Raider in ’15). With his signing, and Mark Ingram’s signing with Baltimore, Murray will help fill the void left by the departure of Ingram, who finished his Saints career as the franchise leader in rushing touchdowns (50) and its second-leading rusher (6,007 yards).
And he’ll lean on advice from Ingram to do so.
Murray said he already has a sense of the Saints’ locker room vibe, gained from following Ingram on social media.
“I got a feel for it because I follow Mark Ingram on Snapchat and Instagram,” he said. “So I’ve seen all the fun stories, the live videos – Teddy (Bridgewater) as well. So I was sitting back watching and definitely appreciating that tight-knit group that they had in the locker room, and it was cool to see.
“(It’s) no pressure at all. Mark did a lot of great things in this uniform. I told him that, congratulated him, and told him I will need his help as I’m getting to know this city, getting to know this group and making an identity of my own here in New Orleans. For me, it’s about being who I am no matter where I am, and bringing to this team what I can bring.”
And now, doing it in the same huddle as Drew Brees, a Hall of Fame-bound quarterback.
“It’s a blessing,” Murray said. “To play along with a guy who’s going to be in a gold jacket one day is something I never even imagined, to be honest. Looking forward to getting to know him, learn from him and watch him every day and witness why he’s great.”
Meet the newest member of the New Orleans Saints, running back Latavius Murray.