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Positive carries a plus for Murray

The Philadelphia Eagles’ offseason whirlwind continued Thursday with the expected signing of free-agent running back DeMarco Murray. Last season, Murray led the NFL with 1,845 rushing yards for the Dallas Cowboys.

The Eagles traded the NFL’s second-leading rusher over the past four seasons in LeSean McCoy this week (sent to the Buffalo Bills for Kiko Alonso). In Murray, the Eagles get the fourth-leading rusher over that span.

Most rush yards since 2011

Murray and McCoy differ markedly in at least one statistic. McCoy had the third-highest percentage of rush attempts go for zero or negative yards the past four seasons (among running backs with at least 300 attempts). In that time, Murray had the ninth-lowest percentage (out of 57 running backs).

Concerns about workload?

Murray carried the ball an NFL-high 392 times last season, 80 more than McCoy, who was second in the NFL.

Comparing past 4 seasons

But since he entered the NFL four years ago, Murray in fact has had a lighter workload -- in part because he has played six fewer games than McCoy. Last season was the first time Murray played all 16 regular-season games.

Murray has 165 fewer carries and averages more yards per rush than McCoy does over that span. McCoy has the advantage in pass receptions, though.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em?

In Murray’s career-best 2014 season, he averaged at least 4 yards per carry in all but three games. Two of those three games were against the Eagles. Murray averaged 4.7 yards per rush across all of his games.

The last time the NFL’s leading rusher started the next season on a different team was in 1947. After leading the league with 604 rush yards (and winning the MVP award) for Pittsburgh in 1946, Bill Dudley was traded and played the next season for Detroit.

Most rush yards before changing team*

Murray's 1,845 rushing yards last year are the most by any player who will have started the next season on a new team.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, three other 1,000-yard rushers in NFL history have started the next season with a team from the same division. Jamal Lewis went from the Baltimore Ravens to the Cleveland Browns in 2007, Raymont Harris went from the Chicago Bears to the Green Bay Packers in 1998 and Curtis Martin went from the New England Patriots to the New York Jets in 1998.

This type of transaction is also rare examined from a per-game angle. According to Elias, Murray (who averaged 115.3 yards per game in 2014), will become the third player in NFL history to begin a season with a new team after averaging at least 100 rush yards per game in the previous season (minimum three games).

The others are Edgerrin James (2005 Indianapolis to 2006 Arizona) and Clinton Portis (2003 Denver to 2004 Washington).