Todd Gurley

Falcons To Sign Todd Gurley

That didn’t take long. On Friday, the Falcons formally announced the signing of running back Todd Gurley

Gurley has agreed to a one-year deal with Atlanta, less than 24 hours after being let go by the Rams. One important thing to note: Gurley, who has been plagued by injuries, may still need to undergo a physical with the team before the deal is all legal eagle. Of course, that’s not possible at the moment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the league’s restrictions on travel.

Soon after Gurley was cut loose, we heard that Gurley was interested in joining the Falcons or Dolphins. The Falcons were the perfect fit for Gurley, a University of Georgia product who can occupy the role once filled by Devonta Freeman. Backed by Ito Smith and Brian Hill, Gurley will try to get back to his old form in familiar surroundings.

Gurley was an NFL megastar just a couple of years ago. Between 2017 and 2018, Gurley racked up 40 touchdowns and roughly 4,000 yards from scrimmage. And, in 2018, he signed a four-year, $57.5MM extension with the Rams that rebooted the running back market.

Here’s the breakdown of his new deal, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter). Gurley will earn $11MM in total with $7.5MM coming from the Rams, $6MM on the Falcons’ books, and a $2.5MM offset. It all adds up to a one-year deal that keeps Gurley as one of the NFL’s three highest-paid running backs.

Unfortunately, the knee injury he suffered near the end of the ’18 campaign changed things and hasn’t looked like the same player since. Father Time is not kind to running backs; nor is the injury bug. Still, no one would be surprised if Gurley thrives with the Falcons in his age-26 season.

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Todd Gurley Eyeing Falcons, Dolphins?

Now a free agent after being released by the Rams earlier today, Todd Gurley is free to choose his next destination. At this early stage, the veteran running reportedly has the Falcons and Dolphins on his list of potential landing spots, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Additionally, Atlanta and Miami were the two teams that expressed the most trade interest in Gurley before he was cut by Los Angeles, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets.

Atlanta looks like a clear contender to add a running back at some point this offseason, as the club’s backfield depth chart is currently headlined by Ito Smith and Brian Hill following the release of Devonta Freeman. Freeman, the Falcons’ starter for the past five years, saw 71 targets in 2019 (10th among running backs), so Gurley’s pass-catching prowess would likely be put to use in Atlanta. Plus, it probably doesn’t hurt that Gurley spent his collegiate time at the University of Georgia.

Miami, meanwhile, already inked ex-Eagles running back Jordan Howard to a two-year, $10MM pact earlier this week, adding him to an RB room that also includes Kalen Ballage, Patrick Laird, and Myles Gaskin. Gurley would further crowd the Dolphins’ depth chart, but head coach Brian Flores — taking a cue from his history with the Patriots — probably wouldn’t be afraid of a running back-by-committee approach.

Every NFL free agent will be affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions, but perhaps none more so than Gurley, whose chronic knee issues surely have interested teams concerned. Indeed, it remains to be seen if a club will take a chance on Gurley’s health without the benefit on an in-person physical.

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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.

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Rams Discussing Todd Gurley Trade

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The Rams are in discussions about a possible trade involving Todd Gurley, PFT’s Mike Florio (via Twitter) hears. It’s not immediately clear which teams are in on the talks, but there are plenty of possible fits for the supremely talented running back. 

Of course, there are some complications involved in any Gurley trade. First, there’s his lingering knee injury, which has limited his effectiveness. There’s also the matter of his contract – Gurley is signed through 2023 thanks to his four-year, $57.5MM extension.

Gurley, 25, was the NFL’s offensive player of the year in 2017 and notched 40 touchdowns between ’17 and ’18. Last year, the two-time All-Pro averaged just 3.8 yards per carry and just 6.7 yards per reception. In total, he gained 1,064 yards last year, the lowest total of his career.

The notion of a Gurley trade was unthinkable just a few years ago. Now, after the Rams went 9-7, all options are on the table.

The Buccaneers – who have landed Tom Brady – could be one possibility for Gurley.

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Ramsey, Gurley Expected To Play In Week 7

Jalen Ramsey‘s expected quick recovery from a back injury that kept him out of his final three Jaguars games appears set to commence. Sean McVay expects the recently acquired cornerback to play Sunday, per ESPN.com’s Lindsey Thiry (on Twitter).

It’s not certain if Ramsey will be available for a full workload, but he’s expected to suit up against the Falcons. So is Todd Gurley, per McVay. Both have been removed from the Rams’ injury report. This represents big news for a Rams team seeking to snap a three-game skid.

The Rams send two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder to the Jaguars for Ramsey, who has not played since Week 3. But with many believing the All-Pro corner’s absence was related to his trade request, and not necessarily the back injury that cropped up, it should come as no surprise the 24-year-old standout will be available in his first Rams game.

Gurley got through a limited practice Friday. The All-Pro running back missed Week 6 because of a quad injury. Rams backup running back Malcolm Brown is doubtful to play this week, leaving Gurley and rookie Darrell Henderson in position to share time Sunday.

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Rams Rule Out Todd Gurley For Week 6

Todd Gurley‘s quadriceps issue will keep him out of the Rams’ Week 6 game against the 49ers, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets. The team previously listed the All-Pro running back as doubtful.

This will keep a key Rams weapon off the field for a pivotal NFC West matchup. Gurley had played in each of the Rams’ five games, and although his usage rate and yardage numbers are down, the two-time first-team All-Pro had scored five touchdowns.

Malcolm Brown stands to start for Los Angeles in its home tilt, with rookie Darrell Henderson seeing additional time. Henderson has only played two offensive snaps this season, receiving one carry. The Rams matched the Lions’ RFA offer sheet submitted to Brown this offseason and have given him 26 carries through five games. While Brown’s operated as Gurley’s backup, he has a team-high (among running backs) 4.4 yards-per-carry average and two TDs.

Gurley’s knee resided as one of this year’s top talking points. That issue may or may not be impacting the fifth-year running back’s workload, but it’s a thigh contusion that has interrupted Gurley’s 2019 instead.

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Todd Gurley Unlikely To Face 49ers

The Rams’ latest key NFC West matchup will likely unfold without Todd Gurley. The quadriceps injury the All-Pro back has encountered will bring a doubtful designation, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets.

Gurley has not missed a game since December of 2018, but instead of the problematic knee issue the two-time first-team All-Pro and the Rams spent the offseason addressing cryptically, it will be a quad malady that has him on the verge of sitting out Sunday’s game against the unbeaten 49ers.

Malcolm Brown will be set to start in Gurley’s place, with third-round rookie Darrell Henderson mixing in. The Rams have also declared Aqib Talib out for Week 6. The Rams have used Brown sparingly this season, giving Gurley 64 carries to Brown’s 26. Brown has also caught just one pass compared to Gurley’s 14. Neither have been particularly effective pass catchers this season, and Gurley is well off his recent prolific paces. Brown is averaging 4.4 yards per carry, however.

A first-team All-Pro in 2017 and ’18, Gurley is averaging 4.2 yards per carry behind Los Angeles’ remade offensive line. His 338 scrimmage yards are noticeably behind the prodigious paces he set in his age-22 and age-23 seasons, which ended in 2,093- and 1,831-yard totals. Now, this quadriceps issue becomes a concern — as do the Rams’ chances of dropping to .500.

A rib injury will sideline Talib, who has been less available in L.A. compared to his Denver days. Talib missed eight games last season, landing on IR for half of it.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Rams, 49ers, Johnson

Todd Gurley has made it through five games without a knee-related absence this season, which could be considered a victory based on the suspicion surrounding the Rams running back this offseason. But the two-time first-team All-Pro has encountered a quadriceps issue and is “up in the air” for Week 6, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Rams initially viewed this as a minor malady, but Gurley is not a lock to suit up against the 49ers. The fifth-year running back has been productive but a cut off his All-Pro form this season. He has yet to post a 100-yard rushing game and, with 338 scrimmage yards, is well off the pace of his past two slates. It would not surprise if the Rams exercised caution here and turned their Week 6 backfield reins over to Malcolm Brown.

Here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • The knee and quad injuries Dee Ford suffered early in his 49ers stay have limited his workloads this season. Ford has played just 33 snaps over the past two games and has not gone through a healthy performer’s practice work. The 49ers holding Ford out of Wednesday and Thursday practices throughout the season would not be a surprise, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. The trade acquisition still rates as a top-20 edge defender, per Pro Football Focus, but has played just 97 snaps this season.
  • After injury trouble and role changes, Arik Armstead entered this season with an uncertain future. But his first four games of a contract year have helped change his status, and John Lynch now indicates the fifth-year defensive lineman will be a sought-after commodity if he reaches the 2020 open market. “What Arik needs to do is keep on playing at that level and he’s going to make his life really easy because a lot of people are going to coveting him, along with us,” Lynch said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. The 2015 first-round pick arrived during Jim Tomsula‘s one-year stay and missed 18 games between the 2016 and ’17 seasons. But Armstead bounced back to play 18 in 2018 and grades as PFF’s No. 14 edge defender through four games. The 49ers have DeForest Buckner extension talks on tap for 2020; they may have to consider the franchise tag for Armstead.
  • An unorthodox Trent Williams destination: the NFC’s Los Angeles team. While other teams have much bigger offensive line needs, Sean McVay coached Williams in Washington. The Redskins also moved the longtime left tackle to guard for a 2018 game. That would be where Williams would play if the Rams traded for him, with Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein entrenched at tackle. The Rams remain confident in left guard Joseph Noteboom, but Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic notes (subscription required) the team desires immediate improvement up front. PFF grades Noteboom as its fifth-worst full-time guard.
  • While Gurley may miss Week 6, David Johnson is also in danger of a Sunday absence. The Cardinals running back is dealing with a back injury and has missed two practices this week. A 2018 fourth-round pick out of Fordham, Chase Edmonds will start if Johnson cannot go. Johnson has not missed a game since a wrist injury sidelined him for 15 2017 contests.

Extra Points: Gurley, Longacre, CBA

In his first day on the field at Rams training camp, Todd Gurley looked like vintage Gurley, The Athletic’s Vincent Bonsignore writes.

The All-Pro back looked like his old self early, showing an ability put plenty of weight on his knee and cut without any apparent issue. That knee, of course, underwent reconstructive surgery in college and gave him issues down the stretch in 2018, leading to C.J. Anderson‘s breakout stint in the playoffs.

As Bonsignore writes, that he looked good doesn’t mean much at this point. It’s all about getting him on the field and keeping him there over the course of a 16-game season. The Rams will be sure to take it easy with Gurley, but this is a great first step for one of the league’s most dynamic playmakers.

A healthy Gurley, who led the league in rushing touchdowns for a second consecutive season in 2018, would make the reigning NFC champions the conference’s favorites once again thanks to its loaded offense and talent-rich defense.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Buccaneers safety Orion Stewart was carted off the field on Sunday with an apparent serious right knee injury, Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The safety was covering Cameron Brate when their legs tangled, leading Stewart to come down awkwardly. A free agent acquisition in 2019, Stewart was working with the Bucs’ second unit.
  • Colts defensive end Jabaal Sheard suffered a knee injury in training camp and is expected to “miss some time,” Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio writes. Just how long that “some time” is remains unclear, but the defensive end didn’t return to practice on Friday due to swelling and soreness. Colts head coach Frank Reich said the injury isn’t season-ending.
  • Just four days after the Cardinals signed linebacker Matt Longacre, the team released him on Sunday, Florio writes. The move comes just a day after the team activated Brooks Reed from the physically unable to perform list. In 2018, Longacre appeared in 13 games with the Rams, recording one sack and 17 tackles.
  • Lions defensive lineman Mike Daniels said he received interest from 13 teams but decided to join Detroit because he wanted to play for head coach Matt Patricia, Florio writes. Though the pair have never worked together before, Daniels called the coach “a genius.”
  • Originally, a meeting was to be held on Monday to discuss the Collective Bargaining Agreement between owners and the NFLPA. That will no longer take place, as the meeting has been rescheduled for early August, Florio writes.

NFC West Notes: Gurley, Gaines, Cardinals

Todd Gurley‘s limited offseason (and the Rams‘ cryptic remarks on their All-Pro running back’s injured knee) has created some uncertainty about how the fifth-year player will be used this season and if he will be as healthy as he looked to start last season. A March report indicated Gurley is dealing with arthritis in his knee, and while Gurley nor the Rams confirmed that, his trainer did. But Travelle Gaines does not believe Gurley’s limitations now, which have induced an individualized workout plan, should point to the 24-year-old runner being on a pitch count when the Rams’ playoff push ensues.

Everybody knew when Todd came out of Georgia that there would be some kind of arthritic component to his knee, which is part of every surgery whether it’s a shoulder, a knee, an ankle,” said Gaines, via CBS Sports, about his client, who underwent knee surgery in 2014. “He’s now at the year-five mark; all we’re doing is managing that. If we can pound him less in the offseason while keeping his weight down, working on his strength, working on his agility in short areas, that’s going to give him a better chance to be healthy Weeks 14 through 17 when they really count.”

Gurley missed Weeks 16 and 17 but bounced back to blaze for 115 yards on 16 carries in the divisional round. However, he gained just 45 yards the rest of the way, leading to speculation about the severity of his injury. He and the team have insisted the knee problem isn’t a major concern, but it will be hard to know for sure until the regular season begins. Here is the latest news coming out of the NFC West:

  • Considering the changes made to their coaching staff and quarterback room, the Cardinals may be this offseason’s most overhauled team. Steve Keim also is open to more changes before training camp. “We had a lot of success in the past when we have had late-summer signings,” Arizona’s GM said (via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com) to the rest of the front office in the trailer for the latest Flight Plan, which is chronicling the team’s offseason. “There are players out there that we can find that will make this football team better.” The Cardinals have added talent late in the offseason, from John Abraham to Tre Boston, in recent years. They ranked 32nd in both yards and points last season, so further offensive augmentation wouldn’t be uncalled for.
  • One of Keim’s top defensive investments ran into off-field trouble recently. Robert Nkemdiche was arrested for speeding and driving on a suspended license on June 6, Clayton Klapper of ABC 15 reports. The former first-round defensive lineman told police he was on his way to a Cardinals OTA workout that morning. Police also found a “white powdery substance consistent with cocaine” in a credit card case in the vehicle, Klapper adds. However, police did not and will not test the substance. The Cardinals, who did not pick up Nkemdiche’s fifth-year option in May, alerted the NFL in regards to the personal conduct policy.
  • Moving back to the Rams, their defensive line will have a new starter — after Ndamukong Suh‘s free agency departure — and one of their rookies may be tabbed for the job. Fourth-round defensive tackle Greg Gaines may be the frontrunner to start at Los Angeles’ nose spot, Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The 300-plus-pound Gaines played alongside Vita Vea at Washington in 2017 and in 2018 recorded a career-high 4.5 sacks.