ESPN's John Clayton Praises Titans on Murray Trade

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BOCA RATON, Fla. —** ESPN's John Clayton monitors all 32 teams for the network.

One move really caught his eye in free agency earlier this month.

"The Titans trading for DeMarco Murray I think is maybe the best move of the offseason in the NFL," Clayton said Monday morning from the NFL owners meetings. "The reason is he's an I-formation back, so now they'll put in an I-formation offense in with Marcus Mariota taking snaps from center and it will work out so much better for DeMarco, and for Mariota.

"Having a good running game makes things so much easier on Marcus, because now all of the pressure doesn't fall on him. It was a big move."

The Titans and Eagles completed a trade on March 9 for Murray, the 2014 NFL's Offensive Player of the Year.

Murray led the NFL and set Cowboys franchise records in rushing yards (1,845), and scrimmage yards (2,261) in 2014. In his lone season with the Eagles last season, Murray ran for 702 yards and six touchdowns on just 193 carries.

"In many ways, maybe for the Titans, it works out better what happened to DeMarco in Philly because he didn't get a lot of carries,'' Clayton said. "Sometimes when you have a season like he had in 2014, when he had so many carries (392), it takes two or three years to recover from. He didn't get the carries last year (193), so that will keep his body fresher.

"(Titans coach) Mike Mularkey is really good at establishing a run game, and figuring there's a chance they take (Ole Miss tackle) Laremy Tunsil in the draft, the line should be better. So a better line with a running back who will be in his natural habitat should work out pretty well for them."

Overall, Clayton gives the Titans a high grade in free agency.

In addition to Murray, the Titans have also added cornerback Brice McCain (Dolphins), center Ben Jones (Texans), receiver Rishard Matthews (Dolphins), quarterback Matt Cassel (Cowboys), linebacker Sean Spence (Steelers) and cornerback Antwon Blake (Steelers) since the beginning of March.

"There's 189 guys signed in the (free agency) class so far,'' Clayton said. "I can't say the Titans have done the best, but they are among the best. They didn't go crazy, and they didn't overspend. But they've done a really nice job, and they've gotten better. And they still have the draft.

"Their big thing now is to get the defense better, because they now have some pretty nice pieces on offense."

Running back DeMarco Murray arrives at Saint Thomas Sports Park to sign his contract. (Photos: Gary Glenn)

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