As he hits free agency for the second time in as many years, Atlanta Falcons RB Todd Gurley begins the process of finding a new landing spot. Only a few years removed as the best back in the NFL, injuries have reduced the potential suitors for Todd Gurley as concerns mount over his workload.
Once the best RB in the NFL, Todd Gurley’s skills quickly diminished
Between 2015-2018, Todd Gurley averaged 1,136 rushing yards per season and scored 46 touchdowns. He made three Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro in 2017 and 2018, the latter year representing the Rams’ Super Bowl appearance. It can’t just be me that feels as if this was a decade ago?
Then 2019 hit. After an offseason fueled by speculation surrounding his Super Bowl usage, Gurley showed signs of injuries hampering his play on the field. Rushing 223 times in 15 games, Gurley rushed for just 857 yards but did score 12 touchdowns. We quickly forget that going into the 2019 season, the Rams believed in Gurley enough to sign him to a four-year, $60 million extension that reset the market for the position.
Todd Gurley’s 2020 season did little to quell his detractors
Fast forward one year, and the Rams ate a sizeable amount of dead cap to let him walk and search for a new landing spot. Gurley ended up coming back to his college state of Georgia on a one-year, $5.5 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons. Unfortunately, the home cooking was not enough to get him back into All-Pro form.
Gurley recorded some of the worst stats of his career in yards per carry (3.5) and yards per game (45.2). He also failed to reach double-digit touchdowns for the first time since 2016.
Appearing in 15 games, Todd Gurley rushed only 195 times for 678 yards and 9 touchdowns as the Falcons kept him on a snap count. From Week 8 through the rest of the season, Gurley never saw more than 9 carries or had over 26 rushings yards.
Searching for his next landing spot, Todd Gurley could see a stagnant market due to the effect on the salary cap.
Will a reduced salary cap impact RBs Like Todd Gurley in free agency pursuing new landing spots in 2021?
Due to lost revenue of the 2020 season, the NFL salary cap took a massive hit. Adam Schefter recently reported the 2021 salary cap would be $182.5 million. Teams are cash-strapped and need to make difficult decisions regarding veterans and how bullish they can be in free agency.
Overall, it is not a good year to be a free agent. After consistent growth to the salary cap, no one could have predicted what we saw in 2020. It’s even worse if you are a running back. The NFL has moved to the mindset of utilizing a committee approach. For Falcons RB Todd Gurley, combined with arthritis in both knees, teams could view him as too high of a risk.
After the season, Todd Gurley did express interest in reaching out with the Falcons following head coach Arthur Smith’s hiring.
“You get excited about a coach that runs the ball, which you know doesn’t happen very often,” Gurley said. “So you definitely get super excited about that. I definitely have to reach out to him and [Terry Fontenot] just to be able to talk to them to see what they’re thinking and just get a head start on the free agency thing.”
However, is there mutual interest? Also, would the Falcons be able to pull off such a move in the first place? According to Spotrac, the Falcons are still $8.24 million over the cap. Per Spotrac, Todd Gurley has an estimated market value of $5.5 million on a two-year, $11.04 million contract.
As he hits free agency, where are some potential landing spots for former Falcons RB Todd Gurley in 2021?
Todd Gurley could view San Francisco as a potential landing spot in free agency
From a scheme fit, Todd Gurley saw his best success in the Shanahan-style offense. After all, Sean McVay runs the same offense as they are all a part of the QB Collective.
Todd Gurley is not a guy you want racking up the touches, which works out fine for the 49ers. They are already a team that mixes and matches their running backs on each play based on the situation.
While they do have Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson returning, adding Todd Gurley on a team-friendly deal is hard to pass up. San Francisco has $31.29 million in cap space, and it is hard to see Todd Gurley signing for more than $5 million on a one-year deal.
Could the Detroit Lions be a landing spot for Falcons RB Todd Gurley?
The sound you just heard was the cumulative rage building from every D’Andre Swift believer, especially in fantasy. With Adrian Peterson out of town, Todd Gurley could join Swift and Kerryon Johnson in the backfield. He would also reunite with former teammate Jared Goff, who is now their QB.
The defending Super Bowl champions are a plausible landing spot for Todd Gurley
Leonard Fournette is a free agent, leaving Ronald Jones and Ke’Shawn Vaughn at running back. Bruce Arians likely wants to bring in a pass-catching option for Tom Brady, and Todd Gurley would fill that role.
Over his six-year career, Gurley averaged 40.5 receptions on 56 targets for 375.5 yards and 2 touchdowns. Also, receiving work is far less grueling on a body than rushing attempts — especially for guys with chronic arthritis.
Tampa Bay is $8.97 million clear of the cap and could be one of the top landing spots for Todd Gurley this offseason.
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