After six productive years in the NFL, running back Todd Gurley has confirmed that his time playing football has come to an end. In an interview with NFL Network’s Andrew Siciliano (video link), Gurley answered some queries about his future in the league.
When asked if he was “calling it quits,” Gurley told Siciliano, “I don’t think there’s any question about that one.” Siciliano made certain, asking Gurley to confirm that he wasn’t coming back to the NFL, to which Gurley replied, “Yeah, most definitely.”
Gurley joined the league for the Rams’ last year in St. Louis after getting drafted tenth overall in 2015 out of the University of Georgia. Despite having just recovered from a torn ACL in his final collegiate season, he wasted no time in becoming a household name, exploding onto the scene with a 1,106-yard rookie season that saw him score 10 touchdowns and win Offensive Rookie of the Year. The team’s first year in Los Angeles saw some growing pains that were felt by Gurley, as well, as he only racked up 885 rushing yards and six touchdowns, a bit of a sophomore slump for the young back.
Gurley’s third season saw him find his stride. He turned in back-to-back All-Pro seasons and was 2017’s Offensive Player of the Year. In 2017, Gurley rushed for 1,305 yards for 13 touchdowns and added 788 receiving yards for 6 touchdowns, earning him a four-year, $60MM extension, including $45MM guaranteed, that made him the highest-paid running back in the league. His 2018 season erased any notions of buyers’ remorse as he rushed for 1,251 yards for 17 touchdowns, adding on 580 receiving yards for four touchdowns. Gurley’s burst of success resulted in team success, as well, as Gurley led the 2017 Rams to the franchise’s first playoff appearance since 2004. Although that season ended in a Wild Card loss to the Falcons, the team would persevere in 2018 with a berth in Super Bowl LIII, winning the conference but losing the season finale to the Patriots.
Gurley’s All-Pro-numbers deflated a bit in 2019 and, although he totaled 1,064 scrimmage yards and 14 total touchdowns, the team finished only 9-7, missing the playoffs. Although he didn’t miss much game time at all, arthritis in Gurley’s left knee contributed to the decrease in production. Seeing the writing on the wall, the Rams released Gurley, not willing to take a chance on his lingering knee issues.
After leaving the Rams, Gurley signed a one-year deal with the Falcons. While sharing a backfield with Brian Hill and Ito Smith, Gurley was able to rack up 678 rushing yards for 9 touchdowns, continuing to show an effectiveness in the red zone.
The 2021 offseason came and went, and Gurley remained unsigned. Many rumors linked him to his birthplace in Baltimore, as the Ravens had seen J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill all go down with season-ending injuries before the season even began, but nothing ever materialized, and the Ravens went with a committee of other veterans. Gurley continued to wait but would end up sitting out the entire 2021 NFL Season.
Gurley becomes the latest in a long line of examples that show how playing running back in the NFL is one of the most grinding, thankless jobs in football. Get drafted high, produce at a high level, and be discarded the second you start to show any signs of wear or tear. Running backs’ careers tend to be notoriously short, and, sadly for those who enjoyed watching him, Gurley proves to be no exception. But he shined brightly during his brief yet productive stay in the NFL and was justly rewarded for it.