The rise and fall of Todd Gurley is a startling reminder that nothing is certain. Especially if you’re a starting NFL calibre running back with a debilitating knee problem. However, despite his injury-inflicted drop in quality, Gurley put enough on tape with the L.A. Rams to land a one-year $5 million dollar contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
As we all know, Gurley was perhaps the best offensive player (non-quarterback) in the NFL a few seasons ago. In 2017, Gurley amassed 1305 rushing yards, 13 rushing TDs, 788 receiving yards and 6 TDs through the air. Gurley followed this up with an equally impressive 2018, totalling 1251 rushing yards, 17 TDs on the ground, 580 receiving yards and 4 TD receptions.
However, Gurley’s 2018 season ended with the two-time all-pro losing snaps for Darrell Henderson in the play-offs and Super Bowl LIII. Rumours swirled and it was later discovered that Gurley was still recovering from a lingering left knee injury. An ailment that has got worse over time and saw his contribution for the Rams in 2019 become an afterthought.
Gurley’s injury, combined with the Rams wanting to dump his 4 year, $57.5 million ($45 million guaranteed) contract, led to the star running back being cut by the Rams just one or two seasons after the Erik Dickerson comparisons were being made.
Due to his Hall of Fame level of play preceding 2019, Gurley still had a range of suitors following the termination of his contract. Plenty of teams were eager to sign the 25-year-old on a team-friendly deal in the hopes that Gurley could recover some of his previous form in a less demanding role.
Less than 24 hours after Gurley was made redundant, the former Georgia Bulldog is returning home to play for the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons, who had just released fellow veteran tailback Devonta Freeman, were looking to add some starting NFL calibre talent to their backfield which currently consists of Ito Smith and a bunch of hopefuls.
On paper, the Falcons offensive skill positions are mouth-watering. Matt Ryan, Todd Gurley, Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley is a fearsome foursome. However, as mentioned before, this is not 2017-2018 Todd Gurley. Gurley’s contract length tells the reader all you need to know about the Falcons intentions with the running back.
If Atlanta is smart, Gurley will be a luxury piece to their offence and not an integral part. It is assumed that Falcons GM, Thomas Dimitroff, will draft a running back in the early rounds, most likely to be round 1 as they traded away their second-round pick to Baltimore for Hayden Hurst, to act as an understudy of Gurley and eventually take the bulk of the snaps.
Todd Gurley’s career is a stark reminder of just how fragile a running backs career can be. At only 25, the option of retirement was a very real possibility for Gurley. However, with the Atlanta Falcons, Gurley has a chance to remind folks that he was once a generational talent and hopefully, can still be.