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Rams have a big decision looming with Todd Gurley

Between Todd Gurley's mysterious end to last season and his desire to lighten the weight on his knee, the Rams must come to terms with Todd Gurley no longer being a workhorse back.

Todd Gurley’s financial reward for three great seasons has become a ball and chain for the L.A. Rams as he enters year five of his career.

Gurley has a knee issue that generates news on a near-daily basis. Most recently, Rams radio analyst Maurice Jones-Drew said that the knee bothered Gurley all year long, injury report be damned. That caps a week in which it became clear that the Rams won’t use Gurley at all in the offseason, that the knee truly is “a concern,” and that he’s trying to lose weight in order to reduce the wear and tear on the joint.

As a practical matter, there’s not much the Rams can do about the situation because, as a financial matter, they’re bound to Gurley at least through 2019. Come 2020, a significant decision will have to be made.

As of the third day of the 2019 league year, $34.5 million of Gurley’s deal signed last summer became fully guaranteed. Much of that money has no offset language, including $5 million due in 2020 as a roster bonus.

After 2019, things will become interesting. Another $10.5 million becomes fully guaranteed on the third day of the 2020 league year. Thus, to avoid paying Gurley the full $45 million in guaranteed money under his contract, the Rams will have to cut him after two years. If they do, Gurley would walk away with $34.5 million for only two seasons of work.

If rookie Darrell Henderson quickly flourishes in the Sean McVay offense, the Rams will have to forget about the $34.5 million for 2018 and 2019 and focus on a very clear, specific proposition: Will Gurley be worth another $10.5 million?