Latavius Murray’s vision can one day carry him far beyond the football field.
The Vikings running back earned a 3.0 GPA this spring through online courses during his first semester in Syracuse’s Master of Business Administration program. The 27-year-old Murray even wrapped up some coursework at Winter Park during extended negotiations for his three-year, $15 million deal signed in March.
But Murray also has a chance to better his immediate future, that is should he seize the starting role ahead of Vikings rookie and heir apparent Dalvin Cook.
“We’ve got a long, long way to go before we make any determinations on that,” head coach Mike Zimmer said last week.
Like many running backs who sign in free agency, Murray’s contract has a lot of money tied up in incentives. And he can’t reach them if he’s not carrying the football.
Murray, who can earn at least $4.25 million this year, can make another $2.3 million through incentives in 2017 alone. As former player agent Joel Corry pointed out for CBS Sports, Murray will make $500,000 should he eclipse 900 rushing yards this season. He’ll then take home another $250,000 for every 100 yards after that (up to 1,500 yards and $2 million total.) He can also earn $300,000 if he’s voted into the Pro Bowl.
Whatever Murray makes in incentives for rushing yards is then also added onto his following year’s salary, multiplying the bonuses. So he can max out at $4 million added to his deal this season should he top 1,500 yards and stay on the Vikings roster in 2018.
Murray ran for a career-high 1,066 yards in 16 games two years ago for the Raiders, when he was a Pro Bowl alternate.
Incentives and escalators make Murray’s deal worth more than $25 million over three years, however the Vikings can make it a one-year deal since his contract has only $1.1 million guaranteed for injury beyond this season.
The Vikings expect a heated competition and, eventually, an established committee to replace Adrian Peterson. Murray’s bid for the lead role won’t begin until training camp, when he’s expected to return from March ankle surgery.