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Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

If reports are correct, Todd Gurley has completely reset the market for running backs. Gurley and the Rams have apparently agreed on a four-year extension which will be tacked on to the two years he has remaining on his rookie deal. The deal will be worth $60 million including $45 million guaranteed. Even if you include Gurley's 2018 and 2019 seasons ($2.3 and $9.6 million), this will give him the highest annual contact value of any running back except for Le'Veon Bell on the franchise tag. By a LOT. If any running back is worth this kind of money, it may be Gurley, who will be getting paid right in the middle of his prime (ages 24-29) and has huge value in the passing game as a quality receiver and blocker. But... is any running back worth this kind of money? And what does this mean for David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliott, and Le'Veon Bell, who are all trying to get paid in the next couple years?

UPDATE: Gregg Rosenthal points out on NFL.com that the report is not $45 million guaranteed. It's $45 million in guarantees, which may or may not be voidable. So we need to wait for some more details on this before we know exactly how much definite money Gurley is getting.

Comments

23 comments, Last at 29 Jul 2018, 3:04pm

1 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by Pottsville Maroons Curse // Jul 24, 2018 - 4:07pm

How are the Rams going to afford this team once Goff is up for an extension?

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23 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by LionInAZ // Jul 29, 2018 - 3:04pm

Suh and Talib are both on the wrong side of 30 yrs old. Those are the two biggest salary hits, and Suh's is only one year. Suh might still be in great shape two years from now, but I'd expect both to be gone by the time Goff's contract comes up. We don't even know if Goff will continue to perform at 2017 levels yet.

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2 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by billprudden // Jul 24, 2018 - 4:29pm

Stars sell tickets and maintain interest in a highly saturated market. Rams' trick, if they pull it off, will be to maintain personalities who are both stars and on-field producers.

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3 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by serutan // Jul 24, 2018 - 8:35pm

True enough, but that extra revenue won't keep them out of the cap hell that could result when Goff is re-upped.
______
Was wr

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7 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by jtr // Jul 25, 2018 - 8:06am

I think the Rams have been going all-in on trying to be successful in their first few seasons in LA. They want to make a good first (second?) impression on the fans and build (back) up a fanbase right now. If they have to spend a season or two in salary cap hell later on, hopefully they've already built up a loyal enough fanbase to stick it out with them. Then again, that's assuming there's such a thing as a loyal LA sports fanbase....

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4 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by PirateFreedom // Jul 24, 2018 - 9:23pm

Better win soon to make the inevitable cap hell worth it. Rams seem to be stretching the market at multiple positions.

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5 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by Dan // Jul 24, 2018 - 10:05pm

$15M/yr seems about right for average annual salary. This is in the same ballpark as what WRs like Cooks, Watkins, Landry, Adams, and Robinson just got, and I think there's a good case that Gurley does at least as much as those guys to help his team's chances of winning.

The rest of the market is around $8M/yr, but that's the market for guys like Freeman & McKinnon - Gurley is way better than that. The top tier of RBs are all on their rookie contracts, except for Bell. By the time this extension starts in 2020, the cap will be higher and the RB market will look different.

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6 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by BJR // Jul 25, 2018 - 6:09am

Was Gurley threatening to hold out, or was there any other immediate pressure to get the deal done? I don't really know why any team wouldn't just follow the Steelers model for dealing with your 'franchise' running back on a rookie contract.

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8 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by dank067 // Jul 25, 2018 - 9:53am

The Rams have quite a few different players they're going to have to make decisions on in the next few years. If they're comfortable with the deal they reached with Gurley, they retain the flexibility/leverage of having the tag for their other upcoming negotiations.

Although I also wonder, two years out, if they aren't factoring in uncertainty in regard to how the tag will work since the CBA is going to be re-negotiated and the franchise tag is always a big discussion point.

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9 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by jtr // Jul 25, 2018 - 10:37am

They might also be worried that the David Johnson and Le'Veon Bell contracts next offseason are going to completely break the RB market, so they feel that this deal will end up looking favorable for them after that. That's probably reasonable thinking for two reasons:

1. Running backs are getting involved in the passing game more than ever before, making backs with receiving skills more and more valuable. Versatile running backs who can run between the tackles or line up wide are even more precious, as they give offensive coordinators tons of flexibility in terms of running different plays and formations out of a given personnel group. Previously, running backs were dropping in value due to the relatively low value of running the ball in the modern game. Now, their value is rebounding as the best RB's have adapted to become just as useful in the passing game.

2. Prices in general have been going up in free agency lately. The good teams tend to lock up all their star players, while the bad teams save up and hoard cap space. So there's lots of money, chasing an underwhelming group of players. OTC has six teams projected with $60M of cap space for next offseason, for instance. If some cap-rich talent-poor team sees Gurley as the missing piece to jumpstart their offense, they could probably make him an offer that LA would struggle to match.

If the cap keeps going up and those trends I mention above continue, it could very well be that some desperate team would have offered Gurley $20M/yr in 2020, making the $15M/yr of this contract look like a bargain in comparison.

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10 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by dank067 // Jul 25, 2018 - 10:06pm

I don't know if RB contracts will inflate quite that much by 2020 but good points all around, especially about the value of RBs who are effective in the passing game.

Since they contribute in kind of similar ways I think Bell and Johnson should definitely be able to expect a contract in this mold, although I wonder if they might not come up a bit short given Bell's age and Johnson's more recent injury history. (Of course Johnson could bounce back with an all-pro season this year and render that somewhat moot.)

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12 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by BJR // Jul 26, 2018 - 6:09am

Yes clearly RBs that can be heavily involved in the passing game have become more valuable. The idea of a 'third down back' seems to be being phased out of the NFL as coaches gradually, and wisely, realise the importance of versatility.

Still, I remain skeptical that Gurley or Bell or Johnson is so much more valuable than any other back. Just look at the Patriots, who for years have had maintained an incredibly efficient running and short passing game whilst cycling through various committees of running backs. Just last season Dion Lewis led the league in rushing DYAR, whilst also being a very efficient receiver, yet the Patriots showed no interest in extending him. They don't want to commit long term guarantees to the position, even for objectively good players. They appear to believe that the skills are replaceable, at moderate cost, without long term commitment. I'll defer to Belichick on this one.

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13 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by jtr // Jul 26, 2018 - 7:57am

The fact that the Patriots have largely chosen not to invest in expensive backs isn't in itself an argument that they're not valuable. Every team values some positions more than others, and the Patriots' preferences aren't necessarily the only correct ones.

Besides, the Patriots clearly DO value the running back position a lot. They spent $10.5M on the position last year, it was just spread over 4 committee players rather than on a lead back and a backup or two. And they just spent a first round pick on new lead back Sony Michel!

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17 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by BJR // Jul 26, 2018 - 9:21am

Yes they do invest resources in the position, but always in such a way that avoids long term commitment/guarantees to any individual player.

I wasn't trying to suggest the answer was to sign any old scrubs. You still want talent. But running backs have notoriously short shelf lives, and rookies tend to be much more productive than at other positions. So the Patriots allowed another team to commit to last years' leader in rushing DYAR.

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19 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by Will Allen // Jul 26, 2018 - 9:26am

Give last year's leader in DYAR mediocre coaching and quarterbacking and he doesn't finish in the top half of running back DYAR. I'm pretty sure Darth of Foxboro concurs.

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21 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by BJR // Jul 27, 2018 - 9:48am

That's speculation. There are several Patriots RBs down the years who haven't neared what Lewis did last season. By pretty much any objective measurement he's a good player.

Now, he does have a reasonably significant injury history - I suspect that is most of the reason why no extension out of Foxboro was forthcoming.

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22 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by Will Allen // Jul 27, 2018 - 10:55am

Sure it's speculation. Any comment on a player's future performance is speculation. Lewis can be a good player, while still producing below average DYAR, when paired with mediocre quarterbacking and coaching. That's the entire point; players whose talents can consistently overcome a crappy environment are exceedingly rare, like Hall of Fame rare.

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15 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Jul 26, 2018 - 8:24am

The most valuable RB New England has is Tom Brady. No one sets out to stop their running attack (see the Colts), and it shows.

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18 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by Will Allen // Jul 26, 2018 - 9:22am

Yeah, it just amazes me how easily interdependence in this game is continually overlooked, especially with regard to roster management. No player's or position group's cap number should be looked at in isolation, but rather only in the context of that roster.

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20 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by Dan // Jul 26, 2018 - 4:27pm

It doesn't seem odd for the top few RBs to be much more valuable than most other RBs. Gurley, Bell, maybe Johnson, maybe Elliott, maybe some guys from the past 2 draft classes will join them. That pretty clearly is the shape of value at the TE position, where Gronk is much more valuable than most other TEs, Kelce is probably up there too (though a step back from Gronk), and maybe Ertz. So why not at RB?

The Patriots let Lewis go elsewhere because he isn't one of those elite few RBs and he was going to get paid pretty well. Compare with what they've done at WR. They have often gone cheap at WR and gotten good production from those guys, and they have traded away their best WR for draft picks. But when they had an elite talent in Randy Moss they were willing to re-sign him for big bucks. It's a similar story at other positions, e.g. they have currently cobbled together a cheap but solid interior OL, but when they had an elite talent in Logan Mankins they were willing to pay up. What we're seeing with the Patriots' RBs is mainly their unwillingness to pay up for middling talents.

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11 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by BJR // Jul 26, 2018 - 6:06am

Valid point about wanting to retain flexibility with the franchise tag.

Though I do also question the future existence of the tag. If the players union don't make its abolition a cornerstone of their next round of negotiations then the union is really not fit for purpose.

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14 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by jtr // Jul 26, 2018 - 8:00am

I have a feeling that's going to end up dropping low on the union's list of priorities. It's the same way with the max contract in the NBA; the union ends up being willing to somewhat depress the earnings of the very top 2% of players in order to fight for the player pool as a whole. IMO, the union SHOULD give in on the franchise tag if they can get a slightly larger amount of revenue for the players in exchange--more money for ALL the players (including those on the tag), instead of more leverage for players who are making some of the highest salaries in the league.

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16 Re: Rams, Gurley Agree to Record Deal

by BJR // Jul 26, 2018 - 9:15am

You are correct, I over-exaggerated. The unions first priority is absolutely to gain a greater share of revenue.

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