Todd Gurley took the long road home in hopes of salvaging his career.
Gurley, once an All-Pro running back with the Los Angeles Rams, signed with the Atlanta Falcons this offseason. The former first-round pick — and ex-Georgia Bulldogs star — joins a team hoping to return to the playoffs after two down years.
All early reports out of Atlanta have been positive. Things are so good that the Atlanta Falcons recently ‘felt’ Gurley’s speed return after his previous knee issues.
Todd Gurley shined with the Los Angeles Rams
An All-SEC player at Georgia, Gurley entered the NFL as the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
Gurley gave fans in St. Louis even more heartbreak when he ran for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie. That was the only season Gurley played in St. Louis — and it ended with a Pro Bowl nod — before the Rams moved to Los Angeles.
After a down 2016 season, Gurley broke out in 2017 under new head coach Sean McVay. Gurley totaled 2,093 yards from scrimmage — 1,305 coming on the ground — and 19 total touchdowns.
Those numbers earned him first-team All-Pro honors for the first time in his career.
Although Gurley ran for fewer yards (1,251) in 2018, he averaged 4.9 yards per attempt and led the league with 17 rushing touchdowns. Gurley again earned first-team All-Pro honors and helped the Rams to Super Bowl 53, where they fell to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
Although Gurley ran for 12 touchdowns last year, his yards per carry dipped to 3.8 in 15 games. Los Angeles missed the playoffs and cut Gurley, who turned 26 on August 3, in the spring.
Todd Gurley played well in the postseason, running for 261 yards and two touchdowns on 5.9 yards per attempt across four games. Los Angeles split reps between him and C.J. Anderson during the Super Bowl run.
Gurley signed with the Atlanta Falcons this offseason
Because the Rams cut Todd Gurley midway through a heavy contract, he could afford — pun intended — to take a little bit less wherever he signed.
Gurley and the Atlanta Falcons agreed to terms on a one-year contract with a $3.5 million fully guaranteed base salary. Gurley also received a $2 million signing bonus and $500,000 in incentives.
According to NFL Media, Gurley receives the full $500,000 if he scores 13 touchdowns or 1,000 rushing yards. Los Angeles still owes Gurley another $5.05 million.
Although they added a running back struggled with knee problems in recent years, Atlanta appeared optimistic about adding Todd Gurley to an offense already featuring future Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Julio Jones.
Gurley is expected to split reps with Ito Smith, a third-year running back who has recorded 421 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 3.8 carries so far.
Atlanta is seeing signs of the old Todd Gurley in practice
If Todd Gurley continues his training camp renaissance into the regular season, Atlanta may have one of the NFL’s best stories this year.
Gurley has received rave reviews throughout the Falcons’ training camp for his attitude and play.
Atlanta recently had a scrimmage at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons coach Dan Quinn was thrilled with how Gurley played.
“The speed was the thing. He out-ran the leverage on one play. On another one, he got to the edge and made a big play. I felt his speed for certain.”
That is major news for Gurley and the Falcons. He is still only 26 and if his speed is returning, he could provide a dangerous element to the Falcons’ offense.
Todd Gurley’s days of dominating the NFL as a rusher and pass-catcher might be over. Gurley has arthritis in both knees, a result of the ACL he tore at Georgia.
Still, Atlanta has reason to be optimistic about what Gurley can provide this year. In what could be the start of the Matt Ryan era’s final years, Atlanta needs all of the help they can get.