The thick of the NFL offseason has already arrived which means free agency will soon begin in earnest. Teams cannot contact unrestricted free agents until March 15, exactly two days before the start of the 2021 league year. However, news regarding the top players will circulate before the free agency officially kicks off, and this year’s market could feature big-name talents like Dak Prescott, Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, and Kenny Golladay. The franchise tag will likely remove one or more from the open market, but more will reach free agency when the legal-tampering period opens.
2020 in review
After the Los Angeles Rams accepted a significant dead-cap hit to move on from Todd Gurley, the two-time All-Pro running back quickly re-emerged with the Atlanta Falcons. There, Gurley immediately became the team’s new starting running back, ultimately starting 15 games and leading Atlanta in most major rushing categories.
However, Gurley never reclaimed the form that made him one of the NFL’s premier running backs. He registered some of the worst marks of his career in yards per carry (3.5) and yards per game (45.2) while also failing to reach double-digit touchdowns for the first time since 2016, his final season under former Rams head coach Jeff Fisher.
While few if any teams will seriously consider Gurley as their primary running back at this stage of his career, he should garner some interest as a backup. The Detroit Lions will most likely part with Adrian Peterson this offseason, leaving a spot behind D’Andre Swift on the depth chart. The San Francisco 49ers could lose Tevin Coleman and Jerick McKinnon this offseason and run a scheme quite similar to the one in which Gurley thrived during his time with the Rams.
Do the Falcons want to keep him?
Given the Falcons’ concerning salary-cap situation and Gurley’s poor 2020 campaign and health record, it seems unlikely a second contract will materialize to keep the former Offensive Player of the Year in Atlanta.
Gurley’s likely departure from the Falcons leaves an open path for any decent running back to claim in Atlanta. Brian Hill is a free agent, leaving Ito Smith as the only back of note signed for 2021. Look for the Falcons to add a back or two this offseason. Meanwhile, Gurley’s value will likely depend on the health record of whomever his next team employs as the starter.
Gurley’s market remains unclear, though teams running a version of the outside-zone heavy scheme in which he played under Sean McVay will probably kick the tires on him.