Originally published on SBReport.net on July 24, 2012
While many fans anticipated a possible departure of Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphy, the Raiders front office made it official on Monday announcinga trade that sent Murphy to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for an undisclosed conditional draft pick.
Murphy quickly became a fan favorite when he broke out as a solid target his rookie season after being drafted in the 4th round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Murphy hauled in a team wide-receiver-high 75 passes his first two seasons for six touchdowns and 1,130 yards.
Murphy struggled with a groin injury that caused him to miss his first five games of last season and only started in one game, while hauling in just 15 receptions for 241 yards.
The trade most likely gives Murphy a better chance at more playing time with a Panthers team who look to add a deep threat for quarterback Cam Newton.
Murphy also descended down the Raiders depth chart with the emergence of Moore's play last season, along with the play of Raiders fifth-round draft pick Juron Criner and undrafted rookie wide receiver Rod Streater.
After having a sensational training camp last season, Moore took advantage of receiving more snaps due to Murphy's injury by appearing in 13 games and hauling in 33 receptions for 618 yards and five touchdowns. With Murphy sidelined due to injury, Moore became the Raiders' deep threat that they needed.
The trade was also most likely made possible due to the emergence of this year's 5th round draft pick for the Raiders, rookie wide receiver Juron Criner out of the University of Arizona.
Criner continued to make plays in this offseason's Organized Team Activities and mini camps in Alameda. Criner has continued to make tough plays this offseason, catching nearly every ball thrown his way. Although he hasn't seen contact yet, Criner has provided performances similar to that of last year's rookie sensation Denarius Moore.
Streater has stepped up as well during the offseason workouts, consistently earning praise from head coach Dennis Allen. Allen has made a point of naming Streater as a player who has practiced well numerous times.
Streater has been running with the second team offense, backing up Moore for much of the season while fellow rookie Criner has backed up Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Streater, like Criner, doesn't have the typical "Raider speed" that late-iconic owner Al Davis appreciated so much. Streater ran a 4.52 forty yard dash, while Criner ran a 4.68.
Both Criner and Streater found success at the college level though, despite not having the quickest 40 times in the draft.
Over Criner's final two seasons with the Arizona Wildcats he hauled in 157 passes for 2,189 yards and 22 touchdowns. In Streater's two years at Temple University, Streater hauled in 49 receptions 882 yards and seven touchdowns. Streater was running with the first-team offense in a June minicamp when Moore went down with a hamstring injury.
With Heyward-Bey, Moore, Jacoby Ford, Criner and Streater most likely making the team as the wide receivers, that leaves most likely just one roster spot that would have been possible for Murphy to take over, which possibly would contain limited playing time.
With Murphy's departure, the spot is now made available for Eddie McGee, Duke Calhoun and numerous rookies looking for an opportunity to prove themselves.
Murphy's departure gives the Raiders an opportunity to play their young wide receiver corps.
The trade also gives the Raiders more salary cap space, something the Raiders haven't had much of recently. Murphy, who was entering his last season under his rookie contract, was set to make $1.1 million.
After signing safety Tyvon Branch to a long-term deal just a week ago, the Raiders were said to have about $5 million in cap space and now have increased the room with the trade of Murphy.
This leaves extra money should the Raiders want to sign another veteran player or two, including running back Cedric Benson who has been continuously linked with the Raiders throughout the offseason but desires to be paid more than the veteran minimum.
Either way, the trade frees up a roster spot and some money for the Raiders, as well as gives Murphy a chance to provide more of an impact on a team.