Oakland Raiders Still Very Deep at WR After Louis Murphy Trade
Justin Smith – Jul 24, 2012
The Oakland Raiders had to do something. With a glut at wide receiver, draft picks to sign with little cap room and the potential for disharmony in the locker room with an unhappy veteran taking a back seat to up and coming rookies, something had to give.
With one master stroke General Manager Reggie McKenzie solved those issues by shipping receiver Louis Murphy to the Carolina Panthers for what looks to be a conditional 7th round pick – the condition being Murphy make the Panthers 53-man roster, which, given their lack of depth at receiver he should do easily.
It was a brilliant move by McKenzie to get something for a player many felt would ultimately be cut by the Raiders due to their sudden depth at receiver and need for cap relief.
For the Raiders, wide receiver has been a trouble spot regarding depth and talent, but no longer. Darrius Heyward-Bey, drafted in the first round the same year Murphy was drafted in the fourth, has come in to his own. During their rookie campaigns Murphy outshone DHB repeatedly, making two game-winning catches and stretching the field with his speed and showing future star potential.
However Heyward-Bey has vastly improved his numbers and playmaking since his rookie season and seems poised to continue to do so this year, while for various reasons Murphy’s production has fallen off.
Murphy has had hamstring and leg issues, a death knell for a speed receiver, and last season he had major issues with catching – or rather dropping - the ball. He played in only 11 games in 2011 with a dismal 15 catches. He had clearly lost his confidence.
Add to that his arrest for having Viagra without a prescription and his last two years have been forgettable ones.
Jacoby Ford came on in 2010 and showed speed, poise, the ability to catch the ball in tough circumstances and explosiveness in both the passing and return games. He’s been slowed by injury as well but is fully healthy this offseason and by all reports looking like his old, dynamic self.
Denarius Moore was drafted last year in the fifth round and immediately began turning heads in training camp with incredible plays all over the place. Not content to be a practice superstar, he caught two touchdowns in Week 2 against Buffaloand the rest of the season cemented himself as a dangerous downfield threat that can catch anything thrown his way.
You can expect DHB, Ford, and Moore to be the starting triumvirate opening night against the Chargers.
Murphy was looking like the number four, but became expendable due to the emergence of two young receivers who weren't drafted highly – or in one case, at all – but have nonetheless shown vast potential.
Juron Criner was quite productive and consistent at Arizona, but his perceived lack of speed and agility kept him off the lips of many scouts. Good thing for the Raiders.
The Raiders used the excellent scouting that brought them Murphy and Ford in the fourth round and Moore in the fifth to snap up the wiry, cagey Criner in the fifth round.
Criner has been Moore reincarnated this offseason, continuously making the spectacular look mundane and routine with one-handed and diving catches and by attacking the ball in the air, snatching it from defenders and owning the field whenever on it.
Coaches, players, and quarterback Carson Palmer are all giddy with anticipation as to what Criner can do on an NFL field; they repeatedly talk about him like he’s a star already and fully expect him to produce at a high level once the games count.
Undrafted free agent Rod Streater has been a revelation in training camp with his crisp routes, greater than expected speed and burst, along with his Velcro-like hands. Coach Dennis Allen is very high on him, invoking his work ethic, willingness to learn and skill set beyond what he expected when they signed him. Streater even ran with the first team when Moore was briefly sidelined; that’s how highly the staff thinks of him.
That’s five solid wide receivers, but it doesn’t stop there. Derrick Carrier is a 6’4, 235 beast who runs a crisp 4.4 forty but lacks experience. Eddie McGee - the best player on the Raiders’ practice squad last season - is talented, but has had a hard time staying healthy. Both are competing for a roster spot.
Duke Calhoun and Brandon Carswell are competing for a spot on the 53 man roster as well. With the Raiders likely to carry six receivers, the first five spots cemented and four more players vying for another, Murphy simply didn’t fit into the Raiders plans any longer.
They may not have needed Murphy, but the Raiders certainly did need the $1.32 million in cap relief his trade provided. Not only will the Raiders be fine at receiver but the cap room cleared enables them to sign a free agent like Cedric Benson or a linebacker like EJ Henderson; in other words, they jettisoned an expendable receiver for a potential need position.
When you weigh the many pros against the minimal cons, it's easy to see how the Raiders concluded that Murphy could do more for them in a trade than on the field, making trading him not just an option, but a no-brainer necessity.
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