By Adam Hatlan
Todd Gurley, entering his fourth year in the NFL, is now a rich man.
Gurley, the AP offensive rookie of the year in 2015, totaled 13 touchdowns and 1,305 yards on the ground and paired that with 64 catches for 788 yards with six more touchdowns in 2017. Over his three seasons, Gurley has rushed for 3,296 yards and 29 TD’s, adding 128 catches for 1,303 yards and six TD’s.
At 23 years old, Gurley was recently rewarded for his breakout season and overall production he provided for the Rams. Per Spotrac, the contract extension is worth $57.5 million dollars over four years, or $14.375 million annual average, keeping him in Los Angeles until the end of the 2023 season. Throw in the fact that $45 million of the contract is guaranteed and you have a very rich young man. In fact, the richest running back contract in NFL history. Did I mention this kid is only 23 years old?
The question is, is Gurley worth the money? Should he be the highest paid running back in the NFL? Well, let’s look at some numbers and decide.
Gurley’s 29 rushing touchdowns are tied for most over the last three seasons with the Atlanta Falsons’ Devonta Freeman, who coincidentally is the second-highest paid running back in the NFL behind Gurley. Worth it? Check.
Gurley’s 3,296 rushing yards are second to LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills, who has a whole FOUR MORE YARDS at 3,300 over the last three years. McCoy is currently the third-highest paid running back. (Am I sensing a trend here with which running backs are making the most money?). As far as Gurley…worth it? Absolutely.
For receptions, Gurley’s 128 are behind Bell and the Browns’ Duke Johnson, Jr. over the last three seasons. Johnson, Jr. has 188 and Bell has 184 (probably never would have guessed Big Duke took the cake on that one, huh?). Worth it? You bet.
I’d like to put an asterisk by the 128 reception stat for two reasons though. First of all, Gurley had Jeff Fisher as his head coach for the first two seasons of his career. Blah. Fisher did nothing but hold Gurley and the Rams offense back. Secondly, the quarterback play was sub-par over his first two seasons. Gurley had a lot of attention thrown his direction in 2016 with an inconsistent Nick Foles (hard to believe after his magical run last year), and especially in 2017 with a struggling Case Keenum (again, hard to believe) and rookie quarterback Jared Goff just getting his feet wet.
Enter Sean McVay: offensive mastermind. Suddenly the Rams go from a paltry 14.0 points per game and last in the NFL to number three, at 28.9 points per game. Jared Goff goes from five TD’s and seven INT’s in nine games to 28 TD’s and seven INT’s over 15 games and looks like a franchise quarterback. The Rams offense is suddenly opened up, and Todd Gurley becomes one of, if not the best running back in the NFL.
Gurley led the NFL in three important categories under the McVay offensive juggernaut in 2017: All-purpose yards, rushing TD’s, and total touchdowns (sans QB’s). And that was in just YEAR ONE of the McVay era. Another year of Goff, another year of McVay, the addition of wide receiver Brandin Cooks – this offense, and Gurley, should only get better. And that should scare the hell out of NFL defensive coordinators.
Rams fans should be feeling pretty good about what they have in Gurley. Young, talented, and under contract; a superstar and cornerstone player. Now Gurley and Co. can get to work next year and not have the contract extension question hovering over their heads all season. Kudos to Les Snead and the rest of the front office for getting this done and avoiding any headaches, propelling this franchise even higher.
And for paying Gurley exactly what he deserves. Worth it? Worth every penny.