“The dude(s) that came over to my house as soon as I got cut, Julio (Jones) and Deandre (Baker of the New York Giants), they both pulled up to the house and checked up on me,” Gurley said on former teammate Chris Long’s “Green Light” podcast. “(I was) chopping it up with Julio. That’s why I was like I’m trying to get to the ‘A.’ Going back to Georgia. Going back home. I was waiting for it.”
The Falcons had announced all of their free-agent signings except for the deal with Gurley, who has an injury history for a left knee that likely has to be medically investigated.
With all of the social distancing and orders to stay home in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the logistics of clearing Gurley took a while.
The Ravens announced Friday that defensive tackle Michael Brockers, who had agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal, would not sign with the team. Concerns about an ankle injury reportedly doomed the deal, and Brockers ended up re-signing with the Rams.
In a lower-level move, the Jets' deal with free-agent safety Marqui Christian fell apart, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. No reason was cited.
Also, cornerback Eli Apple’s deal with the Raiders fell through last week.
Last season, Gurley rushed for 857 yards and 12 touchdowns on 223 carries. He also gained 207 yards receiving.
Gurley was selected 10th in the 2015 NFL draft, after the Falcons passed on him. The selected Vic Beasley with the eighth overall pick.
They didn’t pass on Gurley the second time around.
Less than 24 hours after he was released by the Los Angeles Rams, the Falcons agreed to a one-year, $6 million contract with the former Georgia star.
The Falcons, who released Devonta Freeman earlier that week, hope Gurley can add some life to their anemic rushing attack and cause some of their fans, who elected not to show up last season, to return to their seats.
After a storied career at Georgia, Gurley had a strong start to his career with the Rams, but it slowed over the past two seasons.
The Falcons will have to manage Gurley's left knee injury, according to Dr. David J. Chao.
“The arthritis in his knee will not go away but can be managed,” wrote Chao in his Thursday update. “Gurley still has plenty of football left in him, but his carries/touches will need to be limited as well as his practice time. Going forward, Gurley can still add value as a part-time running back, but teams need to adjust expectations given the health of his left knee.”
Chao is a former NFL team doctor for 17 years and practicing orthopedic surgeon.
"Just two years after a record-setting deal with the Rams he has been released," Chao wrote. "We discussed his left knee in multiple articles and subscriber updates while also foreshadowing in our (exhibition) season injury report that Gurley was no longer a bell-cow running back."
The Falcons carried four running backs last season in Freeman, Brian Hill, Ito Smith and rookie Qadree Ollison. The Falcons averaged 85.1 rushing yards per game, the third-fewest in the NFL.
Gurley averaged 3.8 yards per carry last season and put up career lows in carries (223) and yards (857).
The Rams made the move to release Gurley on March 19, several minutes before roughly $10 million in the three-time Pro Bowl selection’s contract became fully guaranteed.
Gurley, who played at Tarboro High in North Carolina, had a productive, but turbulent career at UGA that included a four-game suspension and a major knee surgery.
Gurley injured the knee on his 29th carry of the Auburn game Nov. 15, 2014. He had 138 yards at the time. It was his first game back after sitting out four games because of an NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits. He received $3,000 for signing autographs.
Gurley finished his career ranked second in school history in career touchdowns (44), all-purpose yards (4,322) and rushing yards (3,285). He also held the UGA record for average yards per carry in his career (6.44), edging out Charley Trippi (6.42).
Gurley became the first running back selected in the first round of the NFL draft since 2012 when the Rams selected him. He was named the NFL offensive player of the year after the 2017 season.
Gurley played his first career postseason game Jan. 6, 2018 in the wild-card round against the Falcons. He rushed 14 times for 101 yards.
In the following season during the Rams’ march to the Super Bowl, Gurley was slowed by injury. Last season, he clearly wasn’t in his top form.
Gurley will take up $20.15 million in dead salary-cap space this season for the Rams, who signed him to a four-year, $60 million contract with $45 million guaranteed in June 2018.
Gurley was cut before even playing the first year of that contract extension, which made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL at the time.
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