Sean Payton: Latavius Murray was important to us and gave us a lot of good snaps

The Saints released running back Latavius Murray on Tuesday after he declined to take a pay cut, and part of the reason why was his status on the depth chart.

Murray was set to make $2.95 million in base salary this season. And according to head coach Sean Payton, he was also about to be the third running back behind Alvin Kamara and Tony Jones Jr.

“It’s a credit to Tony, he kind of battled and earned that No. 2 spot,” Payton said Wednesday, via Katherine Terrell of TheAthletic.com. “Obviously I’ve got strong feelings towards Latavius, he’s been real important to us and someone who has really given us a lot of good snaps.”

Jones appeared in only one game as a rookie in 2020, taking three carries for 13 yards. In this year’s preseason, he rushed for 106 yards — averaging 8.8 yards per carry — with a touchdown. He also caught six passes for 42 yards.

Murray rushed for 656 yards with four touchdowns last year for New Orleans and had 637 yards rushing with five TDs for the club in 2019. Murray is 31, but he’s been durable as a running back, playing at least 14 games in each of his seven seasons. He’s missed only one game since 2017.

There should be a market for Murray’s services — whether it’s the Ravens or any other team who could use a steady, veteran presence in their backfield.