Todd Gurley Released by Rams Before $10.5M Contract Bonus Hits

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 19, 2020

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley watches during the first half of an NFL football game against the Seattle Seahawks Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Rams are parting ways with running back Todd Gurley II. 

Two years after signing Gurley to a long-term contract extension, the Rams announced Thursday that they released him. ESPN's Adam Schefter noted he was due to earn $10.5 million had he remained on the roster.

Prior to the 2018 season, the Rams gave Gurley a four-year, $57.5 million contract extension with $45 million guaranteed. He was playing at an MVP level for the first 12 games that year with 1,649 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns.

The decision to cut Gurley now is costly for the Rams, as he'll leave them with a $20.15 million dead-cap hit, per Spotrac. That number would have dropped to a more manageable $8.4 million in 2021, but Los Angeles opted to act now. 

Even though Gurley's performance dipped last season compared to where he was in 2017 and 2018, he still had a knack for finding paydirt. The 25-year-old had 14 total touchdowns and 1,064 scrimmage yards on 254 touches.

The Rams did cut down on how much they used Gurley in 2019. He set career lows with 223 carries, 14.9 carries per game and 857 rushing yards. The former Georgia standout had only three games with at least 20 rushing attempts after having at least five such games in each of the previous four seasons. 

Los Angeles' decreased reliance on Gurley came amid reports about the health of his surgically repaired left knee.

His trainer, Travelle Gaines, told CBS Sports' Dave Richard last June there was an "arthritic component" to Gurley's knee that teams knew about when he was coming out of college. He tore his left ACL in a 2014 game against Auburn. 

During the 2018 postseason, the Rams limited Gurley  to 30 carries in three games.

Head coach Sean McVay told reporters his Pro Bowl running back had only 10 carries in Super Bowl LIII against the New England Patriots by design. 

"We had gone in knowing that we wanted to be able to almost have kind of a shared load between he and C.J. (Anderson)," McVay said. "So, the amount of attempts that we had just rushing the ball in the last couple games was a little bit different."

Given the way things played out with the Rams last season, Gurley now has the potential to reignite his career with a new team. There will be lingering questions about the long-term health of his knees, but in an offense that gives him 15-18 touches each week, he has plenty of upside.