Baltimore is looking for productive players this offseason as they continue to build an arsenal of weapons on offense. As they leave no stone unturned, former star running back Todd Gurley is reportedly visiting the Ravens.
Former Pro Bowl RB Todd Gurley is visiting the #Ravens today, source said. The former #Rams and #Falcons weapon also recently visited the #Lions. Now it’s Baltimore, which could build on an already stacked backfield.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 10, 2021
Many are quick to dismiss this move as Gurley is no longer the star tailback he once was. However, I am here to argue in support of the former two-time All-Pro.
I believe the greatest knock on Gurley has nothing to do with his on-field production. Gurley began the Los Angeles Rams era where the team just paid enormous money to their star players. Gurley swindled the Rams on four-year, $60 million contract extension including $45 million guaranteed. The most bizarre part about the contract was Gurley never played a single down of that contract. There were still two years left on his rookie deal when you include the fifth-year option— which could’ve avoided all of this.
An excerpt from theramswire.usatoday’s Cameron DaSilva discusses this.
“The worst part is that all of this could’ve been avoided,” writes DaSilva. “The Rams signed Gurley to an extension with two years left on his contract. Had he played out the entire length of his rookie deal, he would’ve made $11.95 million, which included the fifth-year option in 2019.
Instead, he earned $34.5 million over that same stretch, meaning the Rams paid him $22.55 million more than they needed to.”
Todd Gurley's rookie contract originally would have run until 2020 and paid him $11.95M. Ended up earning $34.5M over the same term, a $22.55M raise. Never actually played a down in any of the new contract years. #Rams— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) March 19, 2020
This, I believe, has lingered with Gurley’s name.
The worry of Gurley’s health is by far the best argument against him. I reason with this argument and admit it’s risky to add an oft-injured player not only to a stacked running back room, but a stacked roster. Replacing a different player with Gurley, only for him to be out of the lineup is a net loss.
But how many games has Todd Gurley missed over his six-year career? Many would likely argue ten or twenty. Or he’s missed at least a full season. But that’s not true. Gurley has played in 88 of 96 games. He missed three in his rookie season, and then only one or two games a year in his last four seasons.
If you’re a believer in rostering CB Jimmy Smith, a dynamic playmaker who has missed 27.5% of his career games due to injury, you certainly can’t argue against Gurley.
I’m not arguing for Gurley to make the final 53. I’m only saying to give him a chance in training camp on the 90-man roster. At worst, he’s cut and gone, likely on a cheap vet deal with little to no guaranteed money. At best, he earns a spot on the roster, likely behind J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards.
Gurley has upside both as a runner and receiving threat. This is critical in a Ravens offense applying new concepts to open up the passing attack. Being capable of catching passes out of the backfield has become critical for the Ravens and Gurley has experience in this field.
While Gurley would love nothing more to come in, dominate and become the shining No. 1 running back on the roster, it’s far more reasonable to assume he is joining this team on a shorter snap count. He isn’t a 200+ snap count guy. He’ll likely sit behind Dobbins, the leading rusher (or co-lead rusher beside Lamar Jackson), and recently re-signed RB Gus Edwards. He won’t be required to play a brutal amount of snaps, which keeps him healthy.
For reference, Gus Edwards has been the second- or third-string rusher on the Ravens roster the past three seasons. In that time, he’s never rushed for more than 150 carries in a season. I’m confident Gurley can offer value on a shortened snap count which keeps him healthy and effective.
I like the idea of Gurley competing for a roster spot on the Ravens. This is the best rushing offense in the NFL, and having talented runners is vital. Whether he is worthy of a spot will depend on his performance in camp. If head coach John Harbaugh, offensive coordinator Greg Roman and the roster deciding members believe he’s worth a spot, I believe in him. If he can’t make the cut, then he doesn’t make it and the season goes on as scheduled.