Todd Gurley

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.

NFC West Notes: Gurley, Rams, 49ers, Gould, Shanahan, Seahawks, McDougald

One of the biggest stories of this NFL offseason has been the drama surrounding Todd Gurley‘s knee. Gurley clearly wasn’t right down the stretch last season, and C.J. Anderson ended up taking the bulk of the Rams’ running back snaps during their Super Bowl run. Gurley’s health has been clouded in secrecy, with conflicting reports emerging seemingly every week. We’ve heard everything from Gurley having arthritis in his knee and it being degenerative, to him being just fine. Gurley stayed away from the team’s OTAs so he wasn’t available to reporters, but he finally broke his silence this week at minicamp.

Gurley tried to quell any concern at his press conference, saying “I had bigger problems to worry about coming out of college. This is small,” per Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. Gurley is presumably referring to the ACL tear that he had coming out of Georgia. While it’s nice to hear that Gurley doesn’t sound too concerned, it doesn’t mean we should expect him to be a workhorse in 2019. The Rams raised a lot of eyebrows by drafting Memphis running back Darrell Henderson in the third round back in April, and it’s very likely they’ll take it easy with Gurley early on to keep him fresh for a playoff run.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • The 49ers have had one of the best kicking situations in the league the last couple of years, as Robbie Gould has been incredibly consistent. San Francisco is hoping for big things this season as Jimmy Garoppolo returns from his torn ACL, and Gould is a big part of their plans. Unfortunately the two sides are in a bit of a contract standoff, as Gould still hasn’t signed his franchise tag and is demanding a trade. Gould may wait until the last minute to show up, and that’s just fine with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. “If he doesn’t want to show up until Week 1, it is what it is,” Shanahan said on Tuesday, per Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports. “I’ll take a very good kicker at any time, whether it’s Week 1 or on third down, just one play before we’re going to have to kick.” Gould is set to make $4.971MM under the tag in 2019, but is holding out for a longterm deal. Judging by Shanahan’s comments, it doesn’t sound like the 49ers are going to blink anytime soon.
  • Seahawks safety Bradley McDougald is recovering from a recent knee surgery, and now we have more details. McDougald revealed to reporters that he played with a partially torn patellar tendon in his knee from Week 8 on last year, and that he initially tried just rehabbing it before opting for surgery last month, per Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). McDougald also said “for sure” when asked if he’d be on the field at the start of training camp. McDougald, 28, started all 16 games for Seattle last year after being a part-time starter in 2017.
  • In case you missed it, Sean McVay fully committed to Jared Goff recently, saying there’s a “zero percent chance” he doesn’t get extended.

Rams Notes: Peters, Johnson, Gurley

The Rams have a lot on their plate coming up. As they look to defend their NFC championship, they have a bunch of players who will need new contracts soon. One of those is cornerback Marcus Peters, who is heading into the final year of his rookie deal. Rams coach Sean McVay said back in March that the team wanted to extend Peters, but there hasn’t been much progress since then. There’s no guarantee that anything gets done, and Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic notes that while the “Rams have shown a tendency to lock up players they consider core pieces,” that “they’ve also been selective, if not entirely reluctant, to do so with defensive backs.”

Peters is surely looking for a huge payday, but he was inconsistent during his first season in Los Angeles last year. Bonsignore points out that just in the past few years they’ve let corners Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins and safeties Rodney McLeod, T.J. McDonald and Lamarcus Joyner all walk in free agency, choosing to replenish through the draft and in trades. The Rams gave up a lot to acquire Peters from the Chiefs, but it doesn’t sound like they’re quite sold on him. Bonsignore writes that “it looks like a situation they’ll table until next March,” so it doesn’t sound like Peters will get a new deal before the season starts. If that’s the case, he’ll need to prove himself with a bounce back 2019.

Here’s more from Los Angeles:

  • While Bonsignore pointed out an interesting trend about the Rams and defensive backs, in the same piece he noted it’ll soon be broken. Not necessarily by Peters, but by safety John Johnson. He writes the Rams “have made it clear they intend” to lock up Johnson, although he does caution that he “probably won’t get a new” contract until this time next year, as he still has two years left on his rookie deal. Johnson, a third round pick in 2017, has blossomed into one of the league’s best young safeties. He’s thrived in Wade Phillips’ defense, racking up four interceptions and 11 passes defended last year.
  • The Rams have been impressively tightlipped about the health of Todd Gurley. Ever since Gurley was hampered down the stretch last season and ended up splitting time with C.J. Anderson, it’s been impossible to pin down specifics. Reports have varied from him having arthritis in his knee that could potentially derail his career, to insisting that everything was fine. While the Rams have tried to put a positive spin on everything, Jay Glazer of The Athletic hears that Gurley’s knee “is a concern.” Glazer does write that “it’s not all doom and gloom” in Los Angeles, but he makes it sound like something that’s unpredictable and could blow up at any time. All the Rams would say recently is that they have an “individualized workout plan” for their star running back this offseason. Gurley has been staying away from the team’s OTAs, so he hasn’t had to answer questions from reporters yet. We should hopefully have more clarity on the situation soon.
  • In case you missed it, the Rams extended Troy Hill on Thursday.

West Notes: Raiders, Rams, Broncos, Chiefs

During the Raiders‘ negotiations for wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Steelers asked Oakland for a second-round pick, and head coach Jon Gruden was inclined to hand it over, as he explains to Peter King of NBC Sports. “Free-agency’s about to start and I’m thinking, ‘Man, all these slot receivers are going for $10MM. Some of these players are going for $15MM. Why don’t we just give [the Steelers] the second? Get Antonio Brown!’” In the end, the Raiders sent a third-round (No. 66) and a fifth-round pick (No. 141) to Pittsburgh. Based on Chase Stuart of Football Perspective‘s trade chart, those two choices equal the value of the 41st overall selection, so the Raiders did essentially part ways with a second-rounder. Oakland also guaranteed Brown $30.125MM and increased his three-year earning capacity to more than $50MM.

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

  • The Rams aren’t giving up any more details about the status of Todd Gurley‘s left knee, but the club does have an “individualized workout plan” for the star running back, one that doesn’t involve him participating in OTAs, as Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com writes. Gurley’s knee condition — the one that forced him to miss the final two games of the 2018 regular season and limited his action in the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl — is likely an issue that needs to be “managed” and cannot be “fixed,” as Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News tweets. The Rams not only matched restricted free agent running back Malcolm Brown‘s offer sheet this offseason, but traded up to draft Memphis back Darrell Henderson.
  • At one point this year, Broncos cornerback Chris Harris thought he would be traded out of Denver, as he tells James Palmer of NFL.com (Twitter link). Just before the draft, Harris demanded either a new contract or a trade, and he ultimately got his wish, with a new deal arriving on Tuesday. While the veteran defensive back didn’t receive an extension, his total 2019 payout was increased from $8.9MM to $12.05MM. Harris will receive some of that money in the very near future: he got a $650K bonus for reporting to organized team activities, and will get another $600K for showing up at training camp.
  • New Raiders guard Richie Incognito is now a client of Lil Wayne’s Young Money APAA Sports agency, as indicated by agent Ken Sarnoff’s recent tweet. Incognito’s representation won’t earn much of a commission on his one-year deal with Oakland, as it’s a minimum salary contract. Given his lengthy off-field history and his year off from football, Incognito isn’t a lock for the Raiders’ roster.
  • Free agent tight end Nick Keizer will work out for the Chiefs, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). A 2018 undrafted free agent out of Grand Valley State, Keizer was waived by the Ravens at final cutdowns but was on Baltimore’s practice squad/offseason roster from November until earlier this month.

NFC Notes: Gurley, Panthers, Cowboys, Giants

Much has been made about Todd Gurley and his knee, which caused him issues in the 2018 postseason. The Rams didn’t do much to quiet those rumors when they tabbed Memphis running back Darrell Henderson with the No. 70 pick in the draft.

The team, however, is adamant the pick of Henderson has nothing to do with Gurley’s status, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes. Though the team did mention monitoring the perennial Pro Bowl back’s workload.

“Like we have said all along, we anticipate Todd being a huge part of this like he has been the last couple of years,” head coach Sean McVay said. “As far as managing the workload, those are things that we talk about with Todd and as you continue to get educated on, is that something that we should do for the long haul or something that is or isn’t going to affect Todd most importantly and how does that affect our team? But we added a really good playmaker was a big thing.”

Henderson was one of college football’s stars in 2018, rushing for 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns on just 214 carries. His 8.9 yards per rush was no fluke, as he posted the exact same average as a sophomore in 2017.

It will be interesting how the Rams handle their backfield in 2019. In addition to Gurley and Henderson, the team also matched an offer for running back Malcolm Brown.

Heres’ more from around the NFC:

  • Panthers wide receiver D.J. Moore has hired Drew Rosenhaus to represent him, per Sports Business Journal’s Liz Mullen (via Twitter). Rosenhaus and Robert Bailey will team up in repping the Maryland product, who posted 788 yards on 55 receptions in 2018.
  • The Cowboys are expected to be extremely cautious with cornerback Byron Jones, who underwent offseason hip surgery, the Dallas Morning News’ Jon Machota tweets. Machota mentioned Jones, a breakout star in his first season as a cornerback, will be “highly managed,” but they do expect him to be ready for the start of the season.
  • Sticking in Dallas, new slot receiver Randall Cobb said he signed with the team because he wanted to play on a contender, Machota writes“Once I talked to everybody I knew this was the place,” Cobb said. “I definitely believe in this team. I felt like I wanted to be on a team that was a contender and I definitely believe that we have the ability, it’s just putting the pieces together.” Cobb replaces Cole Beasley in the slot, after the latter left for Buffalo early in the 2019 offseason.
  • The Giants will bring back veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets. Though the team drafted three cornerbacks, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman left no doubt Jenkins would be back, saying, “Janoris has a bunch of puppies he has to train.”

Todd Gurley Dealing With Arthritis In Knee

Although both Todd Gurley and the Rams downplayed his knee injury, it was clearly an issue during the NFC champions’ stretch run. More clarity emerged on that front to help explain the two-time All-Pro’s limited postseason usage.

Gurley has arthritis in his left knee, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (on Twitter). This is the same knee on which Gurley underwent ACL surgery in 2014, his final season at Georgia.

Sean McVay said this week surgery is “definitely” not in the cards but added during an interview with CBS Sports the Rams were examining “new methods” to help their ailing superstar. But it appears some form of rehab will be forthcoming, and the major investment the Rams made in Gurley does not look quite as good as it did last summer.

Still just 24, Gurley has posted three 1,000-yard rushing seasons and was on pace to push for a 25-plus-touchdown campaign in 2018. He missed the final two games of the regular season, scuttling that prospect and causing concern for his playoffs availability. Gurley was a key presence in the Rams’ ground-centered gashing of the Cowboys in the divisional round, but C.J. Anderson remain a big factor throughout the playoffs. Gurley averaged 5.3 yards per carry in the playoffs but totaled just 160 in Los Angeles’ three games, ceding time to Anderson and not frequently resembling his explosive pre-injury version.

Anderson, who made a seamless transition to McVay’s offense that is somewhat similar to the Gary Kubiak-based attack in which the Broncos’ former starter operated, is a free agent but would make sense as a longer-term Gurley insurance option.

Gurley’s gargantuan contract calls for $34.5MM in fully guaranteed money going forward. Another $9.5MM is guaranteed for injury. His status will obviously be something to monitor throughout the offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Ravens, Cowboys, Rams, Bills, Falcons

We’ve been hearing mixed things about John Harbaugh for a while now. The Ravens announced they hope to keep the coach longterm with an extension, but rumors have continued to swirl that Harbaugh isn’t willing to commit to Baltimore and that he may want to explore his options elsewhere. Numerous teams have been reported to be interested in trading for the coach, including the Broncos and Dolphins.

We have a new update on Harbaugh today, as Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports the Ravens have “yet to have any dialogue” with Harbaugh about a new contract. La Canfora writes that the “situation is being watched closely” by other front offices, and that several teams still have hopes of trading for him after the year. If the Ravens have a quick playoff exit, it could increase the chances that the two sides part ways this offseason. It’ll be one of the biggest stories to monitor the next few weeks, and we should know a lot more after the team’s game against the Chargers tomorrow.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Cowboys have a bunch of young players they’ll need to pay soon, and Ezekiel Elliott would like to be first in line. The third year running back has one more year left on his deal after this season plus his 2020 fifth-year team option, but he’d like to be extended this offseason, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). While Rapsheet notes that it “makes sense given his workload”, it’s unclear at what price the team values him. We heard back in November that the team might not be in any rush to extend Elliott, so it will be very interesting to see what the team does here.
  • By gaining more than 1,200 rushing yards, Todd Gurley got a $1MM bonus this season, Rapoport tweets. It brings the total value of Gurley’s extension with the Rams to four years and $58.5MM. Gurley got off to a red hot start to the year and was on pace to break the single season touchdowns record for a while, and while he cooled off a little bit during the second half of the season, he still had another dominant year. He’s been dealing with some knee soreness recently, but should be a full go for the Rams’ playoff run.
  • We also got details on Matt Barkley‘s recent extension with the Bills, that Mike Rodak of ESPN tweeted out. Barkley’s two year deal will pay him $1.25MM in 2019 and $1.5MM in 2020. Interestingly, Rodak notes that the team gave Barkley a $600K signing bonus. Getting that large of an amount of guaranteed money would suggest he has a significant leg up on Derek Anderson in the race to be Josh Allen‘s backup next year. Buffalo signed Anderson to a one year deal earlier this week. The deal also includes active roster and playing time bonuses for Barkley, who showed very well in his one spot start this season.
  • Locking defensive tackle Grady Jarrett up longterm is a priority for the Falcons this offseason, according to GM Thomas Dimitroff, per Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com. “We would like to have Grady back for many years to come”, Dimitroff said. Jarrett was one of the few bright spots on a Falcons defense that regressed mightily this season, and he received elite grades from Pro Football Focus. Jarrett, a fifth round pick in 2015, is set to be a free agent this offseason and should be in for a huge payday.

Rams To Rest Todd Gurley In Week 17

The next time Todd Gurley plays for the Rams, some type of NFC playoff logo will be featured on the field. The Rams declared Gurley out for Week 17.

Gurley has been dealing with knee inflammation and was a late scratch in Week 16. The Rams are not guaranteed a bye but can clinch the NFC’s No. 2 seed with a win over the 49ers or a Bears loss to the Vikings.

Sean McVay said (via The Athletic’s Vincent Bonsignore, on Twitter) he is not concerned about Gurley’s availability in January but wants to be smart about the return of his All-Pro running back. Gurley suffered the knee injury late in the Rams’ loss to the Eagles nearly two weeks ago. Sitting in the team’s regular-season finale was rumored all week. Now, C.J. Anderson will have another chance to audition for potential free agent bidders.

Gurley’s season will wrap up with 1,831 yards from scrimmage and a career-high 21 touchdowns. He’s been the centerpiece of McVay’s second Rams offense and obviously is key to the team qualifying for its first Super Bowl since the 2001 season. The 24-year-old back signed a market-setting extension to stay with the Rams long-term at the beginning of the season, and a second All-Pro honor will likely come his way soon.

Lamarcus Joyner will also be shelved in Week 17. The safety suffered an ankle injury against the Cardinals.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Todd Gurley Could Miss Week 17

While Todd Gurley‘s knee injury has been described as “day-to-day,” but it still sounds like the Rams running back might not suit up for this weekend’s game against the 49ers. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the team may show similar caution this weekend by keeping Gurley on the sideline (via NFL.com’s Kevin Patra). According to Rapoport, the team is operating under the logic that “nothing is more important than the playoffs.”

Of course, the Rams aren’t planning on punting next weekend’s contest. The team could still secure a first-round bye with a victory. If the Rams lose and the Bears win, Los Angeles would find themselves playing in the first-round of the playoffs. There’s obvious incentive to win, which provides some optimism that Gurley could end up seeing the field.

After missing practice all of last week, Gurley ended up missing the Rams’ win over the Cardinals yesterday. The running back started experiencing knee inflammation during a loss to the Eagles earlier this month, although there was some optimism that he wouldn’t be forced to miss any games. The 24-year-old is having another standout season in 2018, compiling 1,251 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on 256 carries. He has also added another 59 receptions for 580 yards and four scores.

Fortunately for the Rams, the running game didn’t skip a beat yesterday. Recently-signed veteran C.J. Anderson finished the contest with 167 rushing yards and one touchdown on 20 carries. The Rams are also rostering former undrafted free agent Justin Davis and sixth-round rookie John Kelly, and the trio should be fine going against a 49ers defense that is allowing 110 rushing yards per game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.