Following a 34-31 loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, the Los Angeles Rams were eliminated from playoff contention just one year after their expeditious rise to Super Bowl LIII.
In a postgame column, NFL.com analyst Michael Silver noted that Rams Head Coach Sean McVay could be gearing up to make some major changes heading into next season.
A day earlier, SiriusXM NFL radio host Alex Marvez reported that current Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who is in the final year of his contract, may not return for the 2020 season.
Silver’s story suggested much of the same but also included a postgame comment from at least one Rams veteran who confirmed a shakeup could be on the way following the loss in San Francisco.
“I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen,” said the NFL veteran, “but I’d expect some major changes around here in the next few months.”
However, coaching changes may not be the only reshuffling on the horizon for McVay’s Rams.
Could Todd Gurley Be in a New Uniform in 2020?
In July 2018, the Rams reset the running back market when they gave Todd Gurley a four-year contract extension worth $57.5 million ($45 million guaranteed), which at the time was the richest contract ever given to a back. Gurley’s deal has since been topped by Dallas Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott who signed a six-year extension for $90 million in early September. However, Gurley remains the second-highest paid rusher in the league.
Paired with his clear decline in productivity in 2019, Silver believes that Gurley’s rising salary could be a major factor for his future with L.A.
Multiple sources expect there to be a shakeup on McVay’s coaching staff, perhaps including veteran defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. There could also be significant turnover in the personnel department. As for the roster, Gurley’s high salary and declining production may make him a cap casualty, and other key players could be traded or released as the organization builds around Goff on offense and star defensive tackle Aaron Donald on defense.
The 25-year-old star carried a salary cap hit of $9.2 million this season, however that number will nearly double to $17.25 million for next year. That’s not the only troubling piece of the deal for the Rams either.
Releasing Gurley before June 1, 2020 would result in a $25.65 million dead cap hit and a loss of $8.4 million in cap spending for the Rams. While cutting their leading rusher loose after June 1 still wouldn’t save the team any cap space, it would at least spread of the dead cap hits over two seasons – $17.25 million in 2020 and $8.4 million in 2021. Given the structure of the contract, the likelihood of the Rams releasing Gurley remains slim to none.
If L.A. were to seriously consider moving on next season, the more economical option for would be a trade. However, finding another team willing to take on Gurley’s financials could prove to be more difficult. Per Spotrac, the top 10 teams for 2020 salary cap space all have over $70 million to work with, currently led by the Miami Dolphins with over $103 million.
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