Rams Have "A Lot Of Balls In The Air"

From Todd Gurley to Jared Goff to Aaron Donald, the Rams have several big-money decisions to make in the coming years

July 22, 2018 - 12:47 pm

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Todd Gurley doesn’t play in the AFC North – or even the AFC – but he was following Le’Veon Bell’s contract negotiation with the Pittsburgh Steelers with keen interest. That’s because he will eventually be in Bell’s shoes – and sooner rather than later. 

Gurley, 23, is an unrestricted free agent in 2020.

“He’s seeing what’s happening with Le’Veon Bell, he’s seeing what’s happening with his teammate, Aaron Donald, and he’s starting to look at his situation,” Rams writer Joe Curley said on Ferrall on the Bench. “Normally when we talk to him about his own situation, he doesn’t really go into it very much. But lately, you’re starting to hear him talk about numbers. He mentioned $80 million. You have the Le’Veon Bell news, and he comments about that. These two things intertwine. The end of the CBA and Todd Gurley becoming a free agent, they’re going to happen at the same time.”

If Bell is the best running back in the league, Gurley is a close second. He had 2,000+ total yards and 19 touchdowns (13 rushing, six receiving) for the Rams last season.

“Todd Gurley, arguably, was the most valuable non-quarterback in the NFL last year,” Curley said. “If you put him on the open market, would he get $15 million a year? What type of guaranteed money would he get because he plays that position? So I think he looks at his situation, he looks at the situation of his peers, and I think those things are intertwined.”

The Rams haven’t signed Gurley or Donald to long-term deals, but they did give wide receiver Brandin Cooks a five-year $80-million deal last week. Cooks, 24, is on his third team in as many seasons.

Scott Ferrall thought that was crazy. Sean McVay clearly didn’t.

“I think from a Rams perspective, the main guy who believes in Brandin Cooks is the one guy who needs to believe in Brandin Cooks – and that’s Sean McVay,” Curley said. “The Rams tried to get him the year before. They didn’t have the first-round pick because of the Goff deal, and they have done nothing but talked about how much they love him and how much he fits in. They gave him $80 million before he even plays a down for the team. 

“But you’re talking about a guy that’s played for two of the best quarterbacks not jut in the NFL, but of all time,” Curley said. “And now he’s a young guy who’s getting paid coming into a team where Aaron Donald is still waiting to get paid, the quarterback, Jared Goff, is still on his rookie deal, we’re talking obviously about Todd Gurley – there’s a lot of balls in the air for this front office.”

Cooks’ numbers have decreased across the board in each of the last two years, but he has still recorded three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. He has 24 touchdown receptions since 2015.

“This is a guy that certainly the head coach valued, and when you look at what DeSean Jackson did in Washington under Sean McVay as an offensive coordinator, I think there’s your (comparison),” Curley said. “But obviously $16 million a year for a second- or third-tier receiver is a lot of money, especially for a team that’s got a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of guys to pay.”