Todd Gurley's 5th-Year Contract Option Picked Up by Rams

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2018

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 24:  Todd Gurley II #30 of the Los Angeles Rams runs the ball during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Rams defeated the Titans 27-23.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

In a widely expected move, the Los Angeles Rams announced they picked up the fifth-year option for running back Todd Gurley on Tuesday.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported the news.    

Rapoport added the Rams also exercised the 2019 option for cornerback Marcus Peters. The team acquired him in a March trade with the Kansas City Chiefs for a fourth-round draft pick in 2018 and a second-round selection next year. 

Prior to the 2017 season, there may have been some debate as to whether the Rams should commit to Gurley beyond 2018. He was coming off a sophomore campaign in which he ran for 885 yards and six touchdowns on 278 carries. He was next-to-last in yards per attempt (3.2).

Gurley responded by being a first-team All-Pro in 2017. Not only did he run for 1,305 yards and a league-leading 13 touchdowns, but he also caught 64 passes for 788 yards and six touchdowns. His 2,093 yards from scrimmage were the most in the NFL.

Gurley finished as the runner-up in MVP voting to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Based on his performance alone, triggering Gurley's 2019 option seemed like a foregone conclusion. More importantly, it allows Los Angeles to kick the can down the road regarding a long-term deal.

The Rams have enough on their plate with defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who's set to be a restricted free agent after the 2018 season. Now that Gurley's option is out of the way, general manager Les Snead can shift more of his focus to figuring out an extension for Donald.

Of course, Los Angeles will have to address Gurley's next contract at some point, and lucrative extensions for elite running backs can be tricky—something the Pittsburgh Steelers are finding out.

Le'Veon Bell is one of the best players in the NFL, so he's more than justified for pursuing a contract that would pay him as such. At the same time, the Steelers are understandably hesitant to commit too much money to him.

Running backs don't generally age gracefully, so that is a factor in Bell's value, even though he's only 26. The Steelers announced in March they were using the franchise tag on Bell for a second year in a row, which doesn't necessarily resolve the situation.

The Rams may face a similar dilemma with Gurley by the time his rookie deal expires. But it doesn't need to be an immediate concern for Los Angeles' front office, especially since Gurley is under team control for two more years.