IRVINE, Calif. (AP) — Running back Todd Gurley agreed to a lucrative four-year contract extension through 2023 with the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday.
Rams general manager Les Snead confirmed a new deal for the NFL’s offensive player of the year, calling Gurley a cornerstone of a team with Super Bowl aspirations.
“He’s a big part of who we are and where we’re going,” Snead said. “It’s not only Todd, but a lot of guys we want to make Rams for a long time and be part of our core.”
The Rams didn’t announce the financial terms of the deal, but ESPN said the extension is worth $60 million, with a whopping $45 million guaranteed. That deal contains the NFL’s largest annual average value for a running back contract, resetting the market for ball-carriers such as Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott and Arizona’s David Johnson — and for Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell next year.
Gurley was a league standout in his third NFL season while playing in first-year coach Sean McVay’s explosive offense. He finished second in the NFL with 1,305 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns while catching 64 passes for 788 yards and six more TDs.
The Georgia product was the offensive rookie of the year in 2015 for the St. Louis Rams, overcoming a torn knee ligament from his final season with the Bulldogs to rush for 1,106 yards.
Gurley struggled as part of the NFL’s worst offense during the Rams’ relocation season in 2016, with his yards-per-carry average dropping from 4.8 to 3.2.
That average shot right back up to 4.7 last season while he carried the ball for the NFC West champions behind a stout offensive line that had the same starters for 15 consecutive weeks. Gurley likely would have won the NFL rushing title if McVay hadn’t rested him for the Rams’ regular-season finale ahead of their playoff loss to Atlanta.
Gurley has also grown swiftly as a receiver in his three seasons, increasing his catches from 21 as a rookie to 43 and then 64 last season.
While Gurley’s long-term future is secure, defensive tackle Aaron Donald still doesn’t have a new contract two days before the first practice of training camp.
Donald, the NFL’s defensive player of the year, and the Rams have been working on a long-term extension since early last year. Donald skipped all of training camp last year in a holdout, and he missed all of the Rams’ offseason activities this spring.
Snead and McVay acknowledged that Donald might not report to training camp Wednesday, but they weren’t sure about his plans.
“I do know we’ve still got time to get something done,” Snead said.
Snead said the Rams are actively negotiating with Donald’s representatives at CAA Sports, but the GM didn’t disclose more details.
Donald is under contract for this season for nearly $6.9 million in the fifth year of his rookie contract.
“We’re simultaneously working to make Aaron a Ram a long time,” Snead said. “That’s the goal. Aaron is a big part of who we are, where we want to go, but the details and all that, we’re going to continue the course of keeping them in-house.”