The Jacksonville Jaguars pursued free agent running back Demarco Murray in free agency, but lost out when the price eclipsed what they wanted to spend on the position. Murray ended up signing with the Philadelphia Eagles, getting just over $8 million per year, which is clearly a lot more than what general manager Dave Caldwell was willing to pay.
The Jaguars, based on all accounts, didn't pursue another free agent running back that was on the market.
The Jaguars pursuit of Murray has seemingly made quite a few people think that the Jaguars are looking to upgrade the running back position, and while they're not wrong, the level at which the team is trying to upgrade it has been skewed because of the chase of Murray, in my opinion.
Last yr, JAX surprised everyone and took Blake Bortles...love to see them pull off another shocker and take Todd Gurley.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 16, 2015
@Dcanngieter they made a run at Murray. You don't do that if you are content at RB.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 16, 2015
Here, it appears Daniel Jeremiah is of the opinion that because the Jaguars went after Murray in free agency, that it means they're unhappy with what they have at the position and could do something as asinine as pick a running back with the third overall pick in the NFL Draft.
As I mentioned, I think the pursuit of Murray skewed people's perception of the Jaguars feelings at the position. Murray is a clear upgrade and not many people thought he would actually hit free agency. General manager Dave Caldwell laid out the team had five primary targets in free agency and Murray was not one of those he listed.
"We had five initial targets. We got three of them and then we said if we miss out on one, we will go to three other targets," Caldwell said last week at a press conference. "Those were Davon House, Dan Skuta and Sergio Brown. If we missed on another one, ‘Let’s see where DeMarco (Murray) goes and see where we can go on the market at maybe a position that wasn’t a position of need.’"
To me, it's clear that Murray was a special case situation for the Jaguars. I liken it to the pursuit of Alex Mack last season. Center was a need, but the team had not only players at the position but a plethora of draft picks to use to pick a center if they wanted. Mack was a "blue chip" type player however, so the team took a shot on trying to sign him and the Cleveland Browns matched. The Jaguars didn't pursue any other free agent centers on the market and picked Luke Bowanko in the sixth round.
The Murray pursuit seemed one in the same to me; the Jaguars had a level at which they were comfortable paying Murray in free agency and if he balked at their offer, no big deal. That seemed to be further hammered home with the Jaguars showing virtually no interest in any other running backs on the market.
Now, this isn't to say upgrading running back isn't a need for the Jaguars, because it is. It's something the Jaguars should address in the draft, because while I like both Toby Gerhart and Denard Robinson as complimentary pieces, they're both more in the mold of third-down or specialty backs, more so than a guy on first and second down. Both showed they can be effective when things go right last season, especially Robinson.
The team could use a pick as high as the second round for a running back, but likely will end up picking one in the third round or later, but to even entertain at this point picking one with the No. 3 overall pick is comical to me. Especially one that tore his ACL late in the season and isn't even going to be running by the time the draft takes place.
Yes, running back is a need, but the pursuit of Demarco Murray has skewed the perception of how dire a need it is.