FILE - In this Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019 file photo, Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley II carries against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half of an NFL football game in Santa Clara, Calif. The Los Angeles Rams have released running back Todd Gurley, their superstar running back with a massive contract and a troubling injury history. The Rams made the move Thursday, March 19, 2020 several minutes before roughly $10 million in the three-time Pro Bowl selection's contract became fully guaranteed.
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File
Photo: AP Photo/Tony Avelar, File

Former UGA star Todd Gurley released by Rams

The Los Angeles Rams have released Todd Gurley, the former University of Georgia superstar running back with a massive contract and a troubling injury history.

The Rams made the move Thursday, 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 on Nov. 15, 2014. He had 138 yards at the time. It was his first game back after sitting out four games due to an NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits. He received $3,000 for signing autographs. 

Gurley, who was projected as a top-10 NFL draft selection, did not return to Georgia for his senior season. The dynamic running back 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).

After a storied career at Georgia, Gurley was selected 10th overall in the 2015 draft, two picks after the Falcons selected defensive end Vic Beasley.

He became the first running back selected in the first round of the NFL draft since 2012.

Both Gurley and Beasley shot to the top of the profession at their positions, but couldn’t sustain the success over a long period of time.

In his second season, Beasley led the league in sacks with 15.5 and won the Deacon Jones Award, went to the Pro Bowl and was named All-Pro. In three subsequent seasons, he did not reach double-digit sacks and was just allowed to leave in free agency. 

Beasley recently agreed to a one-year deal with Tennessee that’s worth up to $12.5 million.

 

Gurley was an immediate success, rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a rookie and earning Pro Bowl honors. He had dynamic seasons in 2017 and 2018, rushing for more than 1,200 yards and a league-leading 13 touchdowns in 2017 and 17 in 2018.

He was named the NFL offensive player of the year after the 2017 season. 

Gurley played his first career postseason game against the Falcons in the wild-card round on Jan. 6, 2018. 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 and rushed for 857 yards on 223 carries. 

Gurley will consume $20.15 million in dead salary-cap space this season for the Rams, who signed the 2015 first-round pick 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. 

The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter contributed to this article.

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