Todd Gurley

West Notes: 49ers, Sherman, Rams, Broncos

After passing his physical with the 49ers, cornerback Richard Sherman collected a $2MM bonus, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Not only did Sherman earn some extra cash, but he won’t have to begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list, a good sign after his 2017 campaign ended thanks to a torn Achilles. Sherman, 30, signed a three-year deal with San Francisco earlier this year, but the pact contained just $3MM in full guarantees. Sherman has now picked up an extra $2MM, and if he earns a spot on the 49ers’ roster (as fully expected), he’ll rake in a base salary of $2MM.

Here’s more on the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Free agent receiver Dez Bryant has been linked — often by his own statements — to the 49ers this offseason, but general manager John Lynch today downplayed any interest his club might have in the pass-catching market. “We’re always looking to improve our team, but we’ve been pretty steadfast,” Lynch said, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (Twitter link). “We like our receiver corps.” Bryant, for his part, said on Instagram that he’d like to play for the 49ers, while Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report indicated many league insiders believe Bryant will end up in San Francisco. The 49ers’ wideout depth chart is comprised of Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, second-round rookie Dante Pettis, and Trent Taylor, so they may not have room for Bryant, who is being considered by the Browns.
  • Todd Gurley‘s new four-year extension with the Rams has a base value of $57.5MM, and Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has provided the remaining details of the pact. Gurley received a $21MM signing bonus and will have $26.95MM fully guaranteed at signing, but his practical guarantees are much greater than that. Unless Gurley is cut after the 2018 campaign, he’ll bring in $34.5MM by the third day of the 2019 league year. As Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets, Gurley’s 2018 cap charge actually increased by ~$2.6MM as a result of the extension,
  • The Broncos have placed receivers Carlos Henderson and Jimmy Williams on the reserve/did not report list, per Mike Klis of 9News and Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post (Twitter links). While Henderson is dealing with a personal situation and figures to report eventually, Williams is considering retirement. Denver has already signed Mark Chapman to fill one receiving void, and the club will ink another pass-catcher soon, tweets Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic.

West Rumors: Gurley, Broncos, Raiders

The base value of Todd Gurley‘s four-year extension with the Rams in $57.5MM, tweets Tom Pelissero of NFL.com, who confirms previous reports that Gurley can max out at $60MM from 2020-2023. Gurley is now the NFL’s second-highest-paid running back to the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell, as Gurley will earn $14.375MM annually compared to Bell’s franchise tag value of $14.544MM. Of course, Bell is only playing on a one-year tag, so Gurley now holds the most lucrative multi-year deal in the league. Gurley reportedly received $45MM in guarantees, although it’s unclear whether that total refers to injury guarantees or full guarantees at signing.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • The Broncos had a first-round grade on wide receiver Courtland Sutton before eventually landing him on Day 2 of the draft, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Athletic. Sutton, an SMU product, ultimately fell to the top of the second round (pick No. 40), so Denver did not have to sacrifice capital in order to move up for its preferred target. “He has a huge catch radius and he’s got great ball skills,” Broncos head coach Vance Joseph said of Sutton. “As a route runner, it’s coming, but he’s so big and strong that if he doesn’t win with the route, he wins with his body.” Sutton is likely too large to see much time in the slot, but veteran pass-catcher Emmanuel Sanders could move inside in three-wide sets if Sutton wins a starting role. He’ll be competing with fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton, whom Denver selected out of Penn State in the fourth round. Over his final two collegiate campaigns, Sutton averaged 72 receptions, 1,166 yards, and 11 touchdowns per year.
  • Given that Marshawn Lynch and Doug Martin sit atop the Raiders‘ running back depth chart, Oakland will likely decide between keeping Jalen Richard or DeAndre Washington, as Scott Bair on NBC Sports Bay Area writes. The only problem? Richard and Washington are extremely similar players, with close physical statures (each stands 5’8″ and 205 pounds) and overall production. Both Richard and Washington averaged greater than five yards per carry during their respective rookie seasons in 2016, but each took a backseat in 2017 after Lynch was acquired from the Seahawks. Making the decision even more difficult is that both Richard and Washington return punts and kicks (in 2017, they both played exactly 33.4% of Oakland’s special teams snaps!). Whichever player is ultimately cut is sure to quickly find another home, possibly through the wavier system.
  • Broncos defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is “good to go” for training camp after suffering from a bacterial infection related to a 2015 shoulder operation, reports Mike Klis of 9News. McDonald, who signed a two-year deal with Denver earlier this year, missed the club’s entire offseason program while recovering from the infection. He was also forced to accept a pay reduction as a result of the health issue, although he can earn the $3MM he sacrificed back by appearing in all 16 games for the Broncos during the upcoming campaign. McDonald, 31, appeared in 14 games for the Buccaneers a season ago, will join fellow interior defender Domata Peko on a Denver defensive line that already ranked fourth in Football Outsiders’ adjusted line yards in 2017.

Rams, Todd Gurley Agree To Extension

Todd Gurley isn’t going anywhere. The Rams agreed to a four-year extension with their prized running back that can be worth up to $60MM, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (Twitter link). Gurley was set to hit the open market after the 2019 season, but he’s now under club control through 2023.

[RELATED: Rams Sign Brandin Cooks To Extension]

The deal includes $45MM guaranteed, according to Schefter, which is the largest guarantee ever given to a running back. We’ll have to wait for final word on whether that’s $45MM guaranteed at signing or just $45MM guaranteed for injury, but it’s a substantial commitment either way. The contract also gives Gurley a new money average of $15MM/year, which tops all running backs. It’s a new benchmark for David Johnson and Ezekiel Elliott to shoot for in their forthcoming extension talks, and a target for free-agent-to-be Le’Veon Bell as well.

The running back market has been stagnant for a long time in the NFL, but this is a contract that truly moves the needle. Prior to Gurley’s deal, Bell had the largest annual average value of RBs with his franchise tag of $14.54MM. For multi-year deals, Devonta Freeman was the kingpin with an average of $8.25MM per year. In terms of total guarantees, rookie Saquon Barkley had the crown with $31.2MM secured, followed by fellow youngsters Leonard Fournette and Elliott.

It remains to be seen how teammate Aaron Donald will react to the news of Gurley’s new deal. While Donald has been staying away from the team in an effort to get an extension, the Rams have given Gurley and wide receiver Brandin Cooks contracts to reset the market at their respective positions. Cooks and Gurley showed up for team activities this offseason, so it’s possible the Rams are sending a message by completing their deals first.

Last year, Gurley finished second in MVP voting as he ran for 1,305 yards and a league-leading 13 touchdowns. With an average of 4.7 yards per carry as well as 64 catches for 788 yards and six receiving touchdowns, he was a no-brainer choice for the Pro Bowl and a First-Team All-Pro selection. Not too shabby for a running back who celebrates his 24th birthday next week.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams’ Other Contract Talks On Hold Until Aaron Donald Signs?

Aaron Donald is staying away from Rams workouts for a second straight offseason. But some big names are now in the picture for new Rams deals, creating a more complex situation.

Todd Gurley and Brandin Cooks are each in different situations with the franchise, but each appears on the docket for a big contract. However, Donald’s process will supersede these talks, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). Considering how long it took Donald to merely report to the Rams last year, this delay could be interesting.

As for the Donald talks, no significant progress is being made despite the previously expressed optimism a deal will be done. Rapoport reports that the start of training camp looks like a better benchmark to gauge these discussions. So, it doesn’t appear a deal is particularly close.

Donald is surely gunning for a contract that bumps Von Miller‘s six-year, $114.6MM accord as the richest for a defender in NFL history, and Les Snead‘s acknowledged the team will have to agree to that. It’s uncertain, though, how far into franchise-quarterback money Donald’s camp wants this new deal to land.

Gurley has two years remaining on his contract, after the Rams picked up his fifth-year option, and the recently acquired Cooks is entering his option season. No NFL team gave a 2014 first-rounder a deal prior to that first-round class’ fifth-year option seasons transpiring, so a Gurley pact prior to his may be a long shot. A Cooks pact prior to the deep threat playing a down for Los Angeles could be as well. But the Rams have not been shy about acquiring rookie-contract players expecting big deals in the near future, with Marcus Peters also profiling as such, and they now have Ndamukong Suh on a one-year agreement.

But in terms of deadlines, Lamarcus Joyner‘s does come first, with the date for franchise-tagged players looming July 16.

It’s unclear where the safety’s talks reside, but he signed his franchise tender and has been working out with the team during the offseason. Donald continues to stand as Los Angeles’ clear top priority, and the Rams’ $2MM-plus in cap space represents the lowest figure in the league presently. This will not be an easy matrix to navigate for a franchise that clearly believes, judging by the bevy of win-now moves over the past few months, it can win Super Bowl LIII.

Rams Pick Up Options For Gurley, Peters

Some fifth-year option decisions are easier than others. On Tuesday, the Rams finalized a couple of no-brainer calls. The Rams will exercise their fifth-year options on running back Todd Gurley and cornerback Marcus Peters, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). 

Gurley, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2015 draft, set new career highs in 2017 as he ran for 1,305 yards with a league-leading 13 rushing touchdowns. He also set new personal watermarks with 64 catches and 788 yards with six receiving TDs. The decision to keep him under contract for 2019 was an easy one, but the eventual discussions on a new long-term deal could be tricky. The Rams will have to address the contracts of several other key players – including Peters and defensive tackle Aaron Donald – and Gurley will command a whopping asking price, particularly if Steelers star Le’Veon Bell secures the mammoth contract he is seeking.

The Rams acquired Peters in February from the Chiefs in February in exchange for second- and fourth-round draft picks. Peters is one of the most talented young cornerbacks in the NFL, but a personality clash led to his exit from KC. The Rams, presumably, will want to see how Peters meshes with the coaching staff before discussing a long-term contract. For now, the Rams have Peters under contract through 2019 with the option to bail for any non-injury reason.

As shown on PFR’s 2019 fifth-year option tracker, Gurley is set to earn $9.630MM in 2019 while Peters is slated to make $9.069MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Rumors: Gurley, Rams, Seahawks

After an aggressive offseason, many are wondering how the Rams will afford to hold on to their best players, including running back Todd Gurley, in the long run. Apparently, Gurley doesn’t share that same concern.

Obviously, we know Aaron Donald is the guy to get paid,” Gurley told Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio. “That’s the last thing we want to worry about is trying to get ours done when we need our best player to get paid. That’s not even really the focus right now,” Gurley said. “Once you win that Super Bowl, they don’t have a choice but to pay you whether it’s the Rams or any other team. Once we try to put that together and do that, everything will take care of itself. Just focus on what’s next.”

Gurley, the No. 10 overall pick in the 2015 draft, has one year remaining on his original rookie deal and is expected to be retained this offseason via the fifth year option. While he says that he’s not thinking about his next deal, it would behoove him and his reps to get a dialogue going with Los Angeles brass. Given the limited shelf life of running backs in the NFL and Gurley’s own injury history, it would make sense for him to gain financial security beyond 2019.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

Rams Notes: Donald, Gurley, Johnson

Let’s take a quick look at the latest from Los Angeles:

  • The Rams and defensive tackle Aaron Donald are “in agreement” that the fourth-year pro has exceeded his current contract, according to Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News (Twitter links). While that’s seemingly an obvious statement given that Donald, an All Pro in each of the past two seasons, is scheduled to earn a paltry $1.8MM in 2017, the Rams don’t believe Donald is acting in a “selfish” manner in regards to his contract situation, per Bonsignore. Los Angeles has reportedly worked on an extension with Donald, who is controlled through the 2018 campaign via the fifth-year option. Donald, 26, has managed 28 sacks during his first three years in the league and last year graded as the NFL’s No. 1 interior defender, according to Pro Football Focus.
  • While Donald has performed more than well enough to warrant an extension, the same can’t be said for running back Todd Gurley, as Bonsignore tweets. Given that he’s only completed two NFL seasons, Gurley isn’t even eligible for a new deal until the 2017 campaign concludes, but if his production doesn’t improve next year, it may be tough for Gurley to justify an extension, per Bonsignore. Gurley, 22, saw his yards per carry drop by 1.6 yards a season ago, but a revamped offensive line could help matters next season. Los Angeles’ front five ranked 29th in adjusted line yards in 2017, but the club has since added left tackle Andrew Whitworth and center John Sullivan.
  • In case you missed it, Rams franchise-tagged cornerback Trumaine Johnson isn’t going to sign an extension before the July 17 deadline. Instead, Johnson will play out the season — his second consecutive campaign under the tag — while earning $16.742MM.

NFC Notes: Rams, Gurley, Panthers, Bears

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will implement his famed 3-4 scheme with the Rams in 2017, as Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com writes in an excellent piece describing the planned transition. Robert Quinn will likely see the most change as a result of the switch, as the longtime defensive end will shift to outside linebacker. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald, however, will continue on as a three-technique, while the defense as a whole figures to feature more man coverage, per Gonzalez.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Rams running back Todd Gurley lobbied for new head coach Sean McVay to retain RBs coach Skip Peete, and Los Angeles will do just that, according to Gonzalez. “When you’ve got a key player like that, you want to try to demonstrate that you’re going to listen,” said McVay. “Their opinion matters.” Gurley, of course, struggled in 2016 after a dynamic rookie campaign, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry last season, a 50% reduction from the year prior. Peete, meanwhile, will return for a second season with the Rams, working under McVay and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur.
  • Entering the final year of his rookie contract, and coming off his second consecutive Pro Bowl appearance, Panthers guard Trai Turner has signed with Rosenhaus Sports for representation, per Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal (Twitter link). Turner’s previous agent was Ron Butler, whom Turner had just hired in May 2016. The 23-year-old Turner will earn ~$1.8MM in 2017 thanks to the proven performance escalator, which rewards mid-round picks based on playing time.
  • Bears wide receiver Daniel Braverman has signed Jason Katz of CSE Talent as his new agent, tweets Mullen, who adds Braverman was previously represented by Rosenhaus Sports. Braverman, a 2016 seventh-round pick, was active for three games during his rookie season but didn’t record a reception.

2015 NFL Award Winners

The NFL announced this season’s award winners at last night’s “NFL Honors” event. The complete list can be found here, but the highlights are as follows:

AP Most Valuable Player:
Cam Newton
, QB, Panthers

AP Offensive Player of the Year:
Newton

AP Defensive Player of the Year:
J.J. Watt, DE, Texans

Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year:
Jameis Winston, QB, Buccaneers

AP Offensive Rookie of the Year:
Todd Gurley, RB, Rams

AP Defensive Rookie of the Year:
Marcus Peters, CB, Chiefs

AP Coach of the Year:
Ron Rivera, Panthers

AP Comeback Player of the Year:
Eric Berry, S, Chiefs

Walter Payton Man of the Year:
Anquan Boldin, WR, 49ers

2016 NFL Hall of Fame Class:
Brett Favre, QB; Kevin Greene, LB; Marvin Harrison, WR; Orlando Pace, OL; Tony Dungy, coach; Ken Stabler, QB; Dick Stanfel, OL; Eddie DeBartolo, owner

NFC Notes: Forte, Lions, Lynch, Bonuses

With Matt Forte‘s contract set to expire, Bears tackle Kyle Long hopes to continue playing with his veteran teammate, but knows there’s a chance next week’s game could be their last together, as Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com writes.

“I’d love to play with Matt forever, but it’s a business,” Long said. “I understand that. If he is around, I’ll be as psyched as anybody. And it will be one of the hardest things ever to see him in another jersey if that’s the case. But we have one more game with him, sure. We’re going to run the workhorse until the wheels fall off.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has turned around his 2015 season since Jim Bob Cooter took over as the team’s offensive coordinator, so it’s no surprise that Stafford would like to see Cooter keep the job in 2016, as Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com details.
  • Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch hasn’t progressed as quickly as expected in his recovery from a sports hernia ailment, but he was seen training on Christmas Day at a San Francisco facility. The 29-year-old is expected to be back in Seattle this week, with an eye on potentially returning to practice, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. A determination on Lynch’s ability to play in his fifth postseason with the Seahawks remains elusive, however.
  • In advance of the Seahawks‘ rematch with the Rams on Sunday, GM John Schneider said offensive rookie of the year contender Todd Gurley rated as the No. 1 player on Seattle’s draft board, the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta reports (on Twitter).
  • Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter links) identifies a couple players with major money on the line in Week 17, noting that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson‘s 2016 roster bonus will be reduced by $1MM if he doesn’t rush for 132 yards against the Packers, while Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee will miss out on a $2MM salary increase if his playing time for the season dips below 80% (he’s currently at 82.1%).
  • One player who has cashed in on bonus money recently is Cardinals edge defender Dwight Freeney, who earned an extra $300K on Sunday after racking up three more sacks. Per Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter links), Cardinals president Michael Bidwell says he hopes to write Freeney a year-end bonus check worth more than the $500K the veteran pass rusher has already earned.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.