At a time when everyone was watching and waiting for Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald to get a new contract, the team opted instead to extend running back Todd Gurley. The dust has now officially settled, PFT has obtained the full breakdown of the deal, and the numbers are every bit as impressive as the original reports suggesting.
Now, the $45 million in reported guarantees aren’t, as many realize by now, fully guaranteed at signing. But the devices used by Roc Nation make the money fully guaranteed, as a practical matter.
More on that in a moment. For now, the nuts and bolts of the contract.
1. Signing bonus: $21 million.
2. 2018 base salary: $950,000, fully guaranteed.
3. 2019 base salary: $5 million, guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2019 league year.
4. 2020 roster bonus due on third day of 2020 league year: $7.55 million, guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2019 league year.
5. 2020 salary: $5.5 million, guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2020 league year.
6. 2021 roster bonus due on the third day of 2021 league year or when the first game, whichever is earlier: $5 million, guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2020 league year.
7. 2021 salary: $4 million.
8. 2022 roster bonus, due on the third day of the 2022 league year: $1 million.
9. 2022 training camp reporting bonus: $4 million.
10. 2022 salary: $5 million.
11. 2023 roster bonus, due on the third day of the 2023 league year: $1 million.
12. 2023 training camp reporting bonus: $4 million.
13. 2023 salary: $5.449 million.
14. 2023 escalator: Up to $2.5 million based on individual and team performance.
And now for some more information and analysis on the deal.
First, much of the guaranteed money has no offset language. Specifically, the signing bonus, 2018 salary, 2019 salary, and $5 million of the 2020 roster bonus are not subject to dollar-for-dollar credit if the Rams release Gurley. That’s $31.95 million.
Second, $21.95 million is fully guaranteed at signing.
Third, as of the third day of the 2019 league year, a whopping $34.5 million of the deal will be fully guaranteed. Thus, to avoid owing him nearly $40 million, the Rams would have to cut Gurley after only one season. Which would give him $21.95 million for one year, none of which would be subject to offset.
Fourth, another $10.5 million becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2020 league year. Which means that, to avoid paying him the full $45 million in guaranteed money, they’d have to cut him after two years -- and he’d walk away with $34.5 million for two seasons of work.
Fifth, the 2021 roster bonus was negotiated with a potential work stoppage in mind. That’s why the trigger is the third day of the league year or the playing of the first game.
Sixth, technically, the four-year, $60 million extension has a base value of $57.5 million. This also means that the full six-year deal has a base value of $69.449 million. Which makes the new-money average of the base deal $14.375 million and the total average from signing $11.574 million.
Those numbers are still far and away above the current running back market, which has been depressed at the top end since Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson signed their long-term deals in 2011.
As noted on Tuesday, Gurley was due to make only $2.3 million this year. By next year, Le’Veon Bell’s new deal would have become the benchmark for Gurley. So the Rams made Gurley an offer he really couldn’t refuse, with a practical guarantee at signing of $34.5 million and a clear path to the full $45 million.
Plus, Gurley will be 29 when the deal expires, which will give him another shot at a market-level deal, if he stays healthy and effective.
Seventh, and finally, Gurley would have made $37.3 million over the next four years, if he’d gone year to year. Under the new deal, the cash flow is $21.95 million through one year, $26.95 million through two years, $39.5 million through three years, and $49.5 million through four years. That’s $12.2 million more through four years than he would have made under the final two years of his rookie deal and two years of the franchise tag.
So it was a very good deal for Gurley, one that he couldn’t have refused. And by offering it now, the Rams avoided having Bell’s new contract push the bar for Gurley even higher in 2019.