Rams Release RB Todd Gurley

The Rams shopped Todd Gurley in trades but now are making a major decision. They have released the All-Pro running back.

This move comes less than 15 minutes before Gurley would have been guaranteed $10.5MM. It will send the 25-year-old running back into free agency. The Rams will eat a staggering $20.15MM in dead money in total, though they’ll spread it out over two years via the post-June 1 designation (via Field Yates of ESPN.com). The Rams will also see $5.5MM in cap savings, starting on June 2.

Gurley’s four-year, $57.5MM contract reset the running back market in 2018, and the superstar all-purpose back was one of the NFL’s best players for most of the 2018 season. But a late-season knee injury ended up altering his career. Gurley has not looked like the same player, for the most part, since.

An explosive talent since coming to St. Louis in the 2015 first round, Gurley shook off an ACL tear he sustained while at Georgia to win offensive rookie of the year honors that season. His peak stretch occurred from 2017-18, when he totaled 40 touchdowns and nearly 4,000 scrimmage yards. Gurley resided as the centerpiece of Sean McVay‘s attack during the Rams’ resurgence over this time, finishing second in the 2017 MVP voting. But last season, his workload and per-touch averages plummeted.

Although Gurley played in 15 games last season, his per-carry average dropped from 4.9 to 3.8. A year after a 59-reception, 580-yard season, Gurley totaled just 31 catches and 207 yards in 2019. The Rams worked backup Malcolm Brown into the offense more, which followed Gurley’s sudden timeshare with C.J. Anderson in the 2018 playoffs. Brown and 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson now reside as the Rams’ top running backs.

Both McVay and Gurley danced around the topic of Gurley’s injury over the past year and change, but that matter will soon be another team’s to discuss. Gurley will not command the kind of money he received with the Rams ($21.9MM fully guaranteed) but will be a somewhat attractive commodity on the market given his production. However, the NFL’s COVID-19 policies figure to impede Gurley’s path to another team. Players are not allowed to visit teams, which will prevent other medical staffs from examining the talented back.

This marks another bad sign for high-end running back deals. Gurley resetting the market led to David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott landing contracts averaging north of $13MM per season. The Johnson and Bell deals quickly became onerous for their respective franchises. With the talented 2017 running back class now extension-eligible, it will be interesting to see how teams proceed given the early returns from the new running back market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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41 comments on “Rams Release RB Todd Gurley

  1. 13Morgs13

    Just another reason why you don’t give big money to RBs. Face of the team to released. I would never draft RBs high or pay them a ton of $$$

    • stever

      You can still draft them high, just don’t extend them, at least not long extensions.

      • Michael Chaney

        This is the best way to maximize the value of a running back but I’d rather get 4 good years out of a second or third rounder, while taking a different position in the first round.

        I didn’t want the Browns to take Barkley in 2018 because of the short shelf life of running backs (even though his talent was undeniable). Obviously then they happened to get Chubb in the second round anyway.

      • echozulu88

        That and if they are still doing great after year 5 then just tag them for a season or two. Their overall tag number will never jump too high now.

    • Ironman_4life

      Go back and watch all the Cowboys game from last season every time there was a third down situation with short yardage Zeke was standing on the sideline

  2. ruckus727

    I would be afraid to draft a stud running back high, but I agree I would never pay them big dollars for an extension or free agency. Draft them, use them, abuse them for 4-5 years then repeat.

  3. bothymam24

    what on Earth? why? he had one bad year as his QB struggled which put more on him. for 10.5 million for a top of the line, in his prime running back, I do not understand why you release him at all, and I’m not even a Rams fan

    • Afk711

      Bad narrative. They made a super bowl run leaving Gurley behind. Theres still too much talent on that roster.

      • phillyballers

        Your narrative is trash. Gurly got them in position to make it to the SB just like Wentz did for Foles.

        • Afk711

          I guess you haven’t learned by now RB is the most expendable postion in the sport. As an Eagles fan you should know that. They were above .500 last year with arthritic Gurley. Sadly his knees have been gone for a long time now and they are more than prepared to move on without him.

          • Begamin

            But yet the only reason they made a superbowl run was because of Gurley. He carried them all throughout that season. Just because RBs are expendable doesnt mean Gurley didnt carry them that year

      • braveshomer

        Gurley got them to the superbowl in the first place, they plodded their way thru playoffs and ultimately hit the wall without him scoring whooping 3 points in the superbowl. They’re still cutting bait on players as we speak; they really went ‘all in’ the last 2 seasons and are now paying the price…let the nosedive commence. But I do agree there plenty if talent left, but not enough to mask Goff anymore

      • bowserhound

        There’s no way they are half as good as 2 years ago. Defense has been dismantled and now with Cooks going and Gurley gone, they have nothing to be scared of on offense or defense.

          • seth3120

            Afk I do agree with you on those two positions. I’d even go as far as to say Donald is the best the NFL has ever seen from an interior lineman who can disrupt the quarterback. He’s a once in a lifetime talent. But the Rams as a whole are sliding and fast. They didn’t make the playoffs last year, they have two face the niners and Seahawks twice, and all they’ve really done is subtract. They are a shell of the team that reached the Super Bowl. I’m not sold on Goff personally but that’s debatable. Lets see what he does with less weapons.

  4. ron swanson

    Must have no faith whatsoever that he could bounce back to take that kind of dead money hit.

  5. Afk711

    We knew this was 100 percent happening by 2021 but doing this now is a little aggressive. Oh well thanks Todd and good luck.

  6. phillyballers

    This makes the Hopkins trade look even worse on top of the Diggs trade. Gordon and Gurley on the street, yet they traded Hopkins for DJ???

  7. HailRodgers12$

    Texans offered 2020 and ’21 first rounders..then were reminded they already gave those away.

    Not that I believe I’m smarter than everyone, but I was glad GB didn’t land him in the draft. He already had knee issues in college. The mega-extension never seemed like a good idea to me.

    • braveshomer

      I like it, even if only for 1 or 2 good seasons. If his knees will allow it of course

  8. Simmons>Russ

    Lots of Running Backs that USED TO BE GOOD on the market. I’ll be interesting to see where they land and for how much..

    Toddy Gurley > Buccaneers (2y/20m)
    Melvin Gordon > Falcons (2y/25m)
    Devonta Freeman > Chargers (1y/6m)
    Even Theo Riddick > Chiefs (2y/14m)

  9. SumTingWong

    Goff just might be next. if we get into summer and it looks like the NFL season may not be happening on time or not at all , I think we will see many high priced players being cut as the owners try to reduce their losses. many players are going to see their careers cut short as a result because no team will be spending big money in the coming years

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