Todd Gurley on a potential lockout: 'We don't really have a choice but to try to fight'

When the 2021 season rolls around, Rams running back Todd Gurley will be 27 years old, which means he should still be in the final stages of the prime of his career as an NFL running back. So, if NFL players go on strike when the current CBA expires after the 2020 season, Gurley could be forced to miss out on some of the only remaining years of his prime. But Gurley sounds like he might be willing to risk that in order for NFL players to get the kind of contracts they see professional athletes in other leagues sign every offseason.

After telling TMZ that a lockout could be the thing that gets NFL players fully guaranteed contracts, Gurley told "Tiki and Tierney" on CBS Sports Radio and CBS Sports Network on Thursday that he believes NFL players are willing to strike.

"I think so, man," he said. "Honestly, we don't really have a choice but to try to fight to try to get that done or whatever it is, we just have to come together as players, as a PA. But we'll figure something out for sure. We definitely gotta fix this situation because there's no excuse for a C-level player in the NBA to get paid as much as the best running back in the NFL or the best receiver in the NFL. It just doesn't add up."

That question was preceded by one about Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell, who like Gurley, is one of the the three best running backs in football. Once again, Bell finds himself in the middle of contract negotiations with the Steelers. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, Bell wants a contract that pays him $17 million per year. As our Jason La Canfora explained last month, Bell is unlikely to get the deal he desires. If the two sides can't agree on a new deal, Bell will likely play under the franchise tag, which guarantees him $14.5 million for one season. That $14.5 million one-year contract would make him the highest paid running back in 2018, per Spotrac. For the sake of comparison, an NBA player like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope -- definitely not one of the three best guards in the the NBA -- just signed a one-year deal worth $12 million.

"That's just how the NFL is. ... It's still a sad situation," Gurley said of Bell's situation. "You put your body through all this, you do all this stuff on the field. ... Always a top-five running back each year and you can't even get the money you ask for. Definitely an unfortunate situation." 

The larger issue for NFL players relates entirely to the lack of guaranteed contracts. My colleague, Jared Dubin, probably put it best when he wrote, "Pretty much every time an NFL player signs a new contract, you will often see interested league observers tell you that the contract is not actually worth the reported dollar value. That's because a significant portion of NFL contracts are not guaranteed." As Dubin went on to explain, Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is "the only active veteran in the league on a multi-year deal that is 100 percent guaranteed."

The nature of contract guarantees figures to become a serious discussion point during negotiations for the next CBA. Gurley is hardly the first NFL player to suggest a lockout. So has Richard Sherman while Russell Okung recently said that players have to "demand" change. If it comes to that, players might be forced to give up a portion of their playing careers, which matters considering how short most NFL careers are. 

Related: The NFLPA is already urging players to save money ahead of a potential work stoppage in 2021.

CBS Sports Writer

Sean Wagner-McGough joined CBS Sports in 2015 after graduating from UC Berkeley. A native of Seattle, Sean now resides in the Bay Area. He spends his spare time defending Jay Cutler on Twitter. Full Bio

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