Todd Gurley was released by the Los Angeles Rams just shy of 4:00 p.m. on Thursday afternoon. It's a surprising move, given Gurley's pedigree as a do-it-all running back who has some big seasons in his past. But it's also not all that surprising given his contract and injury issues that have significantly limited his effectiveness over the last year and a half.
Nobody wanted the contract, so nobody traded for Gurley. Now that he's a free agent, though, there will be at least a handful of teams willing to kick the tires on the former Offensive Player of the Year, or as much as they can given the lack of contact teams can have with players with coronavirus parameters in effect. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, recently graced by the presence of Tom Brady, are an obvious fit.
The Bucs have everything Brady needs to succeed, except a running back to catch passes out of the backfield. Brady's favorite targets in New England over the last two years that don't have the last name Edelman or Gronkowski were running backs. The backs currently residing in Tampa Bay are Ronald Jones II and Peyton Barber. The two combined for 47 catches in 2019. James White had 72 by himself in New England last year. If Tampa's goal is to make Brady as comfortable as possible, they'll bring in a safety valve in the form of a running back.
Now, Gurley only had 31 catches last year in a limited role thanks to what we can only assume is an injury concern, since the Rams never wanted to tell anyone why they weren't using their All-Pro running back nearly as much as they could have. But he also had 223 rushing attempts last season. Should the Bucs bring in Gurley and keep at least Jones around, they could use Jones as the primary back and keep Gurley as a change-of-pace guy and big-play threat until the playoffs come around. That is probably the plan the Rams had in 2019, but they didn't get to the postseason, so the point is moot.
If Gurley only provides 400 yards on the ground but can add 50 or so catches for another 400 yards, he would be a valuable addition for the right price. It's hard to imagine anyone throwing big money at Gurley, and if the Bucs can get him on a reasonable deal, that kind of production is acceptable if he stays healthy and can turn it up in the playoffs.
Ultimately, the Bucs find themselves in a very unique situation. The greatest quarterback ever, very much on his last legs, decided your team gives him the best chance to win next year. Signing high-risk, high-reward players like Gurley is just what you do when a superstar comes to town. It's a natural fit.