NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Three best landing spots for Todd Gurley after release by Rams

Per multiple reports, Todd Gurley has been released by the Los Angeles Rams ahead of a 4 p.m. ET deadline that would have guaranteed him an additional $10.5 million on his current contract. The Rams will still pay him a $7.55 million roster bonus that became guaranteed last offseason, and will have to eat more than $20 million in dead money over the coming years. 

For NFL teams in difficult contract situations, the dead money is often viewed as a sunk cost, and the Rams essentially made a decision Gurley wasn’t worth the additional $10.5 million, nor was there a restructuring route they were willing to go that would have almost certainly necessitated adding more long-term money. 

That says something about how they viewed Gurley, and even more is said about how Gurley is viewed around the league that the Rams weren’t able to find a trade suitor, which would have been a better situation for them in cap terms. Presumably, the Rams would have considered moving a draft pick along with Gurley in what would have amounted to a salary dump, but obviously no deal was struck. 

Those realities being what they are, there’s a legitimate question to be asked about whether Gurley will land in a spot where he’s viewed as a No. 1 back. He’ll hit the open market, and given that Melvin Gordon has struggled to find the type of long-term deal he had hoped for, that market may not be kind. 

Given the dead money the Rams will have to eat, Los Angeles will presumably go forward with 2019 third-round pick Darrell Henderson and Malcolm Brown as their two backs, perhaps adding a cheap veteran to round out their backfield. Henderson was a plus prospect who didn’t get much run in 2019, but his 2020 prospects are very promising. 

For those who have Gurley in Dynasty or those interested in what landing spots would be best for his Redraft stock, consider these three options:

1. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons were rumored to be interested as a trade partner, but don’t have the cap flexibility where swinging a deal was possible. But if they can grab the former University of Georgia star to replace Devonta Freeman as their lead back on a cheap, potentially only one-year deal, they will likely be interested.

Were Gurley to return to the state of Georgia to join the Falcons, we’d presumably see him handle a solid share of a currently-depleted backfield on an above average offense. This is something of a best-case scenario for Gurley, but the financial side will have to add up for the Falcons. Even if they do acquire Gurley, expect them to still draft a rookie to back him up, though they would presumably be looking more in the third- or fourth-round range rather than perhaps in the second if they weren’t to add Gurley. 

2. Tampa Bay Bucs

The Buccaneers made the biggest splash this offseason adding Tom Brady, and expectations are that they’ll address running back next given Ronald Jones’ struggles in pass blocking. We know Brady loves to target his backs, and we’d expect the receivers in Tampa to command enough attention from defensive coordinators to open up running lanes for Gurley against lighter boxes. 

3. Kansas City Chiefs

Another team that doesn’t seem likely to break the bank for a back, the Chiefs could try to add Gurley for a relatively modest sum to fill LeSean McCoy’s 2019 role. Damien Williams, Darrel Williams and Darwin Thompson are all still on the roster, but there is presumably space for Kansas City to add to their committee, and Gurley’s touchdown upside would be apparent in an offense as explosive as the one in Kansas City. 

Outside of these three spots, it’s really tough to pin down a landing spot that would be considered even OK for Gurley’s value. We’ve come a long way since his massive 2017 and early 2018 seasons. 

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