After years of being the featured running back for the LA Rams, how wise was the decision to cut Gurley for 2020?
The LA Rams opened the 2020 NFL season with some significant changes to the offense. The team parted ways with both WR Brandin Cooks and RB Todd Gurley, signs that the offense was reformulating how it planned to operate this season. But at the center of the mini-maelstrom was the question that defined the Rams offense for 2020 – the future of running back Todd Gurley.
Yes, the Rams parted ways with the five-year veteran running back, a decision that was both difficult and costly. The Rams benefited from incredible production from Gurley, as a runner, as a receiver, and as a scorer. But the signs of so much exertion were beginning to indicate a decline in the runner’s ability. After years of averaging nearly five yards-per-carry, Gurley struggled to approach four yards-per-carry in 2019. In the end, the Rams had good reasons to decide to part ways. Now, was it the right one?
ESP – economics, statistics, production
While some may wish for the days of yesteryear, remembering the past is not fact. It’s merely the way we remember it. After all, the economic reality of the LA Rams contract with Todd Gurley was burdensome at a minimum. After all, running back Todd Gurley was in line to make $17.25 million in 2020. Even with the Rams dead cap hit of $11.75 million, the Rams added rookie Cam Akers to the roster at a cost of $1.12 million. Since Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown were already on the roster, the Rams saved nearly $5 million.
Statistics wise, the Rams have been able to recreate the same rushing offense from the last season of Todd Gurley’s career with the LA Rams. That’s pretty significant, as the team is doing so on the backs of Gurley’s teammates. And that ability to replace Gurley’s yardage and scores has helped to maintain the Rams competitiveness in 2020.
Meanwhile, Gurley continues to rush for the Atlanta Falcons. While he remains on track for a 1,000-yard season, his production has dropped to just 3.7 yards-per-carry, at nearly the lowest of his career and significantly less than each of the LA Rams’ three running backs. It’s that production that tells the tale. Ultimately, the Rams made the only decision possible. The team could not afford Gurley’s contract in 2021 or beyond.