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Goober Pyle

Schultz: Buzz aside, Todd Gurley’s knee ‘very bad;’ Falcons can’t assume much

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https://theathletic.com/1690145/2020/03/20/schultz-buzz-aside-todd-gurleys-knee-very-bad-falcons-cant-assume-much/

 

The Falcons made a great move in at least one area Friday: marketing. Five years after seemingly every fan wanted them to draft Todd Gurley, they’re bringing whatever remains of the former Georgia running back home to the cheers of everyone who barks on Saturdays and views every former Bulldogs player as an impenetrable force.

So it’s a win for sales.

It’s a win for social media and advertising and buzz for a franchise that has backslid since the Super Bowl in 2016, failed to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons and has been thirsting for positivity against the backdrop of a doom-and-gloom reality.

But is this a win for football?

Like many, I had a close-up view of Gurley’s skills and athleticism at Georgia. I believed the Falcons made the right decision when they drafted Vic Beasley eighth overall in the first round in 2015 because they were desperate for pass-rush help. (Beasley’s 15.5 sacks in a Pro Bowl 2016 season affirmed his ability. Then his head got into the way, but that’s another story.) But when the then-St. Louis Rams took Gurley two picks later, I sent a text message to Rams general manager Les Snead congratulating him on the pick. Gurley was the best running back I had seen, college or pro, since covering Eric Dickerson with the Los Angeles Rams. Gurley affirmed his potential in his first four seasons, rushing for 4,547 yards, catching 187 passes, scoring 56 touchdowns and collecting two All-Pro and three Pro Bowl honors.

But that was the last time we saw Todd Gurley.

An NFL source told The Athletic that there were concerns about his surgically repaired left knee when he came out of Georgia.

When asked how bad the knee is now, the source said, “Very bad.”

Jeff Howe of The Athletic was the was the first to report in June of 2019 that Gurley was suffering from arthritis in the knee.

This was later confirmed when Gurley’s trainer, Travelle Gaines, told CBS Sports: “Everybody knew when Todd came out of Georgia that there would be some kind of arthritic component to his knee, which is part of every surgery whether it’s a shoulder, a knee, an ankle. He’s now at the year-five mark, all we’re doing is managing that. If we can pound him less in the offseason while keeping his weight down, working on his strength, working on his agility in short areas, that’s going to give him a better chance to be healthy Weeks 14 through 17 when they really count.”

An NFL source told The Athletic Friday, “Once a player has an arthritic condition, you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s different for every person. You’re sort of playing Russian roulette because you never know how fast it will accelerate.”

In the Falcons’ defense, this is a low-risk decision. If Gurley can’t perform or fails his physical, they lose little. Gurley’s salary is only $5 million, as reported by WSB’s Zach Klein. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported it as $6 million from the Falcons and $7.5 million from the Rams, less a $2.5 million “offset.” Either way, it’s not a lot. We also don’t know what of the Falcons’ portion is guaranteed.

While there are many fans who view Gurley as damaged goods and aren’t seeing things through Bulldogs-colored glasses, some in team offices right now only know — and care — that they’re getting a lot of marketing juice from this move. Unfortunately, that’s a big part of what they have become.

 

Gurley had career-low numbers last season in carries (223), yards (857), yards per attempt (3.8) and total yards from scrimmage (1,064). He did not look good against the Falcons (18 carries for 41 yards) but had strong games against Pittsburgh (12 for 73) and Arizona (19 for 95). During the course of the season, there appeared to be friction between Gurley and Rams head coach Sean McVay about his workload and perceived abilities in 2019, as outlined in this story by The Athletic’s Rich Hammond.

The Falcons loved Gurley coming out of Georgia. So did everybody. But they opted for Beasley for two reasons: 1) pass rush was the greater need; 2) their trust in then-new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and then-running backs coach Bobby Turner led them to believe they didn’t need a star running back and could rely on Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Suffice to say, the 2016 season validated their thinking about the 2015 draft.

If anybody’s fortunes have changed more dramatically than the Falcons’, it’s Gurley’s. In July of 2018, he signed a four-year, $57.5 million contract extension with $45 million guaranteed. But he was released one season after that deal kicked in. The Rams tried desperately to trade him the past several weeks. As I reported Thursday, the Falcons were interested but couldn’t absorb the salary cap hit that Gurley’s inherited contract would bring.

 

It was logical the Falcons would circle back if the Rams chose to release Gurley, and they did. L.A. opted to take a $20.15 million “dead money” cap hit the next two years rather than pay Gurley another $10.5 million in bonuses that would’ve come due at 4 p.m. on Thursday. Snead and Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff are close, dating back to Snead’s time in Atlanta. It’s logical they’ve had discussions about Gurley’s condition and what should be expected.

Nothing is guaranteed — not what Gurley can realistically contribute, not that he’ll even make it out of training camp, not that there will even be a 2020 season. But for now, the Falcons get headlines.

 

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again, it's a 1 year deal - I have NO DOUBT that part of this was to sell tickets - but if the knee is "very bad" and Gurley fizzles, the Falcons haven't lost much - other than maybe not drafting  one of these backs that they otherwise would have done - and that, could possibly set the franchise back a year.

Hopefully Gurley can give the Falcons 1,000yds rushing and 10 rushing TDs and 500yds receiving and 4 receiving TDs.  If they get that out of him and he is preserved through season and hopefully playoffs - then it will be a great signing.

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2 minutes ago, Sun Tzu 7 said:

Well the good news is that he's probably not going to have any wear and tear on his knee this offseason.... at all.

 

I see what u did there

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I don’t get why these “analysts” are so bent out of shape on a 1 year prove it deal. It’s low risk, and if he doesn’t do well, it’s not like we are forced to give him carries. 

Schultz is an ***, and I trust team doctors more than his “source”.

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5 minutes ago, A-TowN.- said:

I don’t get why these “analysts” are so bent out of shape on a 1 year prove it deal. It’s low risk, and if he doesn’t do well, it’s not like we are forced to give him carries. 

Schultz is an ***, and I would rather trust team doctors than his “source”.

Their job is to create drama, even where none really exists. Kind of like the whiners on this forum.

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4 minutes ago, DonOfThemBirds said:

 

To be honest, wasn't there some friction between Gurley and the Rams based on how much workload he could withstand?

 

I think Gurley wants to prove that he can still be a top back with a decent workload, but arthritis in his knee is a very concerning situation.

If he wants to try and he's producing let him.

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