By signing Todd Gurley to a contract extension that includes $45 million guaranteed, the Los Angeles Rams reset the market for Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson.
A few weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Le’Veon Bell couldn’t agree on a long-term deal, allowing Bell one more years in the Steel City before hitting unrestricted free agency. For Bell, perhaps that was a good thing.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Rams made Todd Gurley the highest-paid running back in NFL history (in terms of guarantees), inking him to a four-year extension worth $60 million, with $45 million guaranteed. For Gurley, 23, is now signed for the next six seasons, with the final two years of his rookie deal still yet to play out. In those years, the former University of Georgia star will land $4.398 and $9.63 million before the extension kicks in for the 2020 campaign.
So why does Bell care? Because the comparison to Gurley is fair, and while Bell will be three years older when next winter rolls around, he’s still in the prime of his career. At this juncture, Bell — and David Johnson, for that matter — can point to Gurley’s deal and use that as a baseline considering the cap will likely continue to rise approximately $10 million per year.
Looking at the current landscape prior to Gurley’s deal, the biggest overall value belonged to Devonta Freeman of the Atlanta Falcons at $41.25 million while the biggest current guarantees went to Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, with the rookie signing on Monday afternoon for $31 million.
Suddenly, Gurley’s deal causes the market to spike for the upcoming contracts of Bell and Johnson, while youngsters like Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt must be smiling as well.
As for the Rams, they lock up their second star of the week, previously signing receiver Brandin Cooks to a five-year, $80 million deal.
The big question now is when general manager Les Snead is going to take care of defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the best player in the game at his position. Donald’s contract is up after this season, and after holding out last year, that could well happen again in 2018 with training camp starting on Wednesday.
In the meantime, the offense’s two best players are locked up for the long haul while quarterback Jared Goff still has three years of his rookie pact to play out. Los Angeles still has ample work to do on the defensive side, though, with Donald, Aqib Talib, Ndamukong Suh and Marcus Peters all due to be signed again within the next two years.