Rams, Todd Gurley agree to huge extension, but Aaron Donald still waits

The Los Angeles Rams and running back Todd Gurley have agreed to a four-year contact extension valued at $60 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The deal includes an impressive $45 million guaranteed, the most guaranteed money ever given to a running back.

Based on Schefter’s tweet, it sounds like the final two years of his rookie contract will remain intact, and these years will be added on.

A running back gets paid big money

As Schefter noted, this contract “resets” the running back market. For years, we’ve seen running back contracts seemingly on the decline as deals for players at other positions have skyrocketed. While the days of backs who only run the ball are seemingly behind us, three-down backs like Gurley are an offensive asset and should be paid as such.

Assuming he plays on his franchise tag, the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell will earn $14.5 million for 2018, but that’s a one-year deal.

Bell noticed, tweeting not long after news of Gurley’s deal, “lol and (people) thought I was trippin’?” in regards to what Bell wants to be paid.

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The next-highest paid running back in 2018 in terms of base salary is the Buffalo Bills’ LeSean McCoy, at $6.075 million. Houston’s Lamar Miller will earn $5 million in base salary this season.

Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley and the Rams are reportedly putting the finishing touches on a four-year contract extension. (AP)
Los Angeles running back Todd Gurley and the Rams are reportedly putting the finishing touches on a four-year contract extension. (AP)

In contrast, 26 receivers and 18 cornerbacks will make at least $5 million base this year.

Agents for Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and Arizona’s David Johnson must be sending gift baskets to Gurley and his representatives, as now they have a benchmark for their clients.

Gurley bounced back after 2016

Perhaps no player was more emblematic of the issues with Jeff Fisher and his coaching staff than Gurley. As a rookie in 2015, the Baltimore native, who was the 10th overall pick earlier that year, was the Associated Press offensive rookie of the year, with 1,294 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns.

But the next year, with then-rookie Jared Goff at quarterback and the Rams struggling mightily, Gurley’s production dipped. By December, he was calling Los Angeles’ system “a middle school offense” out of frustration.

Last year, with new head coach Sean McVay, who immediately turned the offense around, Gurley led the NFL in rushing touchdowns (13), yards from scrimmage (2,093) and combined receiving and rushing touchdowns (19).

He was voted the AP offensive player of the year.

Goff, among others, was happy to see Gurley taken care of, tweeting, “No one deserves it more!”

Is Aaron Donald next?

While Gurley has been great, it’s a surprise to see him get a contract now: for one thing, the team had time to get it done, and for another, the Rams still haven’t signed defensive tackle Aaron Donald. (The Rams also signed receiver Brandin Cooks to a five-year, $80 million contract last week.)

Donald is a cornerstone talent and one of the three to five best players in the NFL; to some, including Gurley, he is the best player in the league now. But his rookie contract, which he has long since outplayed, expires at the end of this season and he’s still waiting.

What gives?

McVay and general manager Les Snead met with media Tuesday, and Snead indicated that the team is working toward a deal with Donald.

“Each situation is different; different players, different agents,” Snead said. “The timeline – you work on everything simultaneously, but you really don’t know when you’re going to get something done or not, because it’s case-by-case.”

Asked further about Donald’s status, Snead said, “We’re simultaneously working to make Aaron a Ram for a long time. That’s the goal. Aaron’s a big part of who we are, where we want to go… We’re going to continue working to get something done with Aaron. I don’t want to get into the details, but I do know we have time to get something done.”

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