Faced with a salary-cap situation, Los Angeles has released workhorse running back Todd Gurley and linebacker Clay Matthews, the team announced Thursday.
Gurley’s release serves as a harsh reminder both of the cold world that is the business side of the NFL and the short shelf life of a running back.
Los Angeles made Gurley, the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, the highest-paid back in NFL history before the 2018 season — awarding him a four-year, $60 million extension that included $45 million in guarantees. At the time of the extension, Gurley had two seasons left on his rookie contract.
Gurley is coming off one of the worst seasons in the NFL due to injuries, rushing for a career-low 857 yards and 12 touchdowns on 223 carries. He also caught just 31 passes for 207 yards, being limited to 254 total touches.
The Rams had a difficult decision to make with Gurley lingering knee issues that hampered him during the team’s Super Bowl run and into the 2019 season. Sean McVay maintained that Gurley’s health wasn’t an issue going forward.
Gurley’s usage last season was down from 2018 when he rushed for 1,251 yards and scored a league-high 21 touchdowns. Questions about the health of his left knee persist.
Gurley finished his Rams career with 5,404 rushing yards, 58 touchdowns, three Pro Bowl selections, two All-Pro selections, and one Offensive Player of the Year award.
Los Angeles letting Gurley go with a post-June 1 designation, a source told ESPN’s Field Yates. That means the Rams will spread the dead-money cap charges ($11.75 million) over two seasons. The Rams will also see $5.5 million in cap savings that becomes available on June 2.
After the Gurley’s departure, the Atlanta Falcons came running to sign the All-Pro back.
ESPN first reported the news.
Gurley is slated to make $6 million on Atlanta’s one-year deal. Including the $7.5 million bonus owed to him by the Rams, with $2.5 million offset, Gurley will make $11 million in 2020, a source told Rapoport.
The Rams’ salary-cap issues were created by the decisions over the past 20 months to extend megadeals to Gurley, quarterback Jared Geoff, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and receiver Brandin Cooks.