Can the Rams actually move on from Todd Gurley this offseason?

Los Angeles Rams

His contract looks like an albatross, but do the Rams have a viable path to parting with Todd Gurley this offseason?

Minimal usage during the Rams’ run to Super Bowl LIII and reports about the possibility of an arthritic condition in his left knee gave way to reduced usage for Todd Gurley in 2019. Over the first nine games of the season he topped 15 carries twice and never had 20 in a game. Over the final seven contests he had 20 or more carries three times with 19 totes in another game, which seemed to the payoff of a plan to manage his workload early in the season.

But Gurley still had a down year though, averaging just 3.8 yards per carry (857 yards in 15 games) on a career-low 223 carries to go with a notable drop in his production as a pass catcher (31 receptions for 207 yards). If not for 14 total touchdowns (12 rushing), his season would have looked far worse.

The 2020 season is the practical first year of the four-year, $57.5 million ($45 million guaranteed) the Rams signed Gurley to back in July 2018. For the second straight offseason questions about his health will be prevalent, and the Rams are apparently ready to survey all options.

The idea of cutting or trading Gurley naturally comes down the financial implications, and he’s due just over $13 million in fully guaranteed salary for 2020. He’s also due a $7.55 million roster bonus on March 20 (the third day of the new league year), and on that same day his $5.5 million base salary for 2020 and a $5 million roster bonus for 2021 become fully guaranteed. If any team were interested in trading for him, that $7.5 million roster bonus is a surefire hindrance.

According to Over the Cap, the Rams would take on $25.65 million in dead money for 2020 if they cut Gurley before June 1. Trading him before June 1 lessens the dead money hit by basically half ($12.6 million). Spotrac cites a $12.6 million dead cap hit, with the $13.050 million in already fully guaranteed salary accounting for the difference.

The dead money implications for outright cutting Gurley become far less in 2021 ($8.4 million) and 2022 ($4.2 million), as the cap space cleared gets to $10 million in 2022.

The reported meeting with Gurley feels simple from the Rams’ end. They will want to restructure his contract/reduce his pay more in line with what he produced last season. A restructure might mean pushing money into future years, but the Rams also probably don’t want to tack any years onto Gurley’s deal.

If they are willing to absorb a bunch of dead money (either all this year or push some into 2021) or they can somehow find a trade partner, the Rams can move on from Gurley this offseason if they want to.

Gurley may not like the revised numbers the Rams are likely to present to him, and with what he’s already pocketed he could push to hit the open market even if it means taking less than what the Rams offer via a restructure. But without that the team is probably stuck with him through next season, and he’ll be a very highly compensated part-time player with diminishing skills.

Next: 2020 NFL Free Agency: Best running backs available

After that, it’s an entirely different matter. The money ramifications will get more palatable, and Gurley is practically guaranteed not to see the last two years of his contract (2022 and 2023) in a Rams uniform.

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