Rams release running back Todd Gurley just prior to deadline for eight-figure roster bonus

Todd Gurley is no longer a Los Angeles Ram. On Thursday, the Rams released the former All-Pro running back. The Rams would have owed Gurley $10.5 million if he was still on the team's roster at 4 p.m. ET. 

Just before the official start of free agency, reports surfaced about the Rams' desire to trade Gurley, who had three years remaining on his current contract. In 2018, he signed a four-year, $60 million extension that included $45 million guaranteed that at the time made him the NFL's highest-paid running back. 

Despite his production with the Rams, Gurley's health has been a major question mark since the end of the 2018 season. Gurley's trainer, Travelle Gaines, told CBS Sports last offseason that his client is dealing with an "arthritic component to his knee." Gurley's health situation became a hot-button topic after he received just 12 touches in the Rams' loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

Gurley then saw a diminished role in the Rams' offense last season, receiving a career-low 223 carries while averaging 3.8 yards per carry, his lowest average since 2016. His 207 receiving yards was his lowest total since his rookie season. Gurley did manage to score 14 total touchdowns while rushing for over 10 touchdowns for the fourth time in his career. 

Shortly after the 2019 season concluded, Rams general manager Les Snead expressed optimism that Gurley would return to form in 2020. 

"I think we've seen players have years that were less than the past come back and actually get back to where they were," Snead said, via Greg Becham of The Associated Press. "He's still a young football player. ... If you did take a step back this year, in terms of stats, I do think you can see players who do come back and get to a higher level than they were in their down years."

When addressing Gurley's dip in production, Snead said that the Rams, in general, need to make improvements as far as their running game is concerned, as Los Angeles finished 26th in the NFL in rushing in 2019 and 27th in average yards per carry. Conversely, the Rams finished fourth in the league in passing yards, as Jared Goff threw the ball a league-high 626 times for a career-high 4,638 passing yards. While he put up prolific numbers, Goff also threw a career-high 16 interceptions that largely contributed to the Rams missing the playoffs a year after winning the NFC. 

While he did not address the reasons behind Gurley's diminished role in the offense (his 272 touches were the lowest since his rookie season), Snead said that Gurley never complained about his lack of touches. Snead also made it clear that he does not regret his decision to extend Gurley's contract. The Rams still owe Gurley a $7.55 million roster bonus tomorrow, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, but are now out from under the $10.5 million roster bonus that would have locked in had he been on the roster at 4 p.m. ET.

The 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft, Gurley rushed for 5,404 yards and 58 touchdowns during his five seasons with the Rams. He also caught 218 passes for 2,090 yards. Gurley led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in consecutive seasons while also eclipsing 2,000 all-purpose yards two straight years. 

Gurley will look to continue that success with a new team, while the Rams will try to get back to another Super Bowl without him. 

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