Todd Gurley’s return to Georgia, where he played collegiately, didn’t quite live up to Falcons fans’ expectations — or his own, I’m sure. Gurley signed a one-year deal worth $6,000,000 with the Falcons after being cut by the Los Angeles Rams. Many fans were blindly optimistic about his ability and were even teased at the start of the year. The start of Gurley’s first year in Atlanta seemed promising, but as the season progressed, his role turned into a running back by committee approach. The former first-rounder rushed for 678 yards on 195 carries, scoring nine touchdowns in 2020.
It is no secret the Falcons will be bringing in at least a couple of new faces to bolster the running back room, whether that is through free agency or the draft. I wrote a rant about running back prospects, in which, I repeatedly stated I believe in never drafting a running back in the first two rounds, but in the same breath never giving them a second contract. I did present possible free-agent targets, too, even if it isn’t my ideal way to build a team — of which Todd Gurley wasn’t included.
In a recent interview on NFL Network, the former Bulldog mentioned how he’d be open to returning to the Falcons. Gurley was asked if the Arthur Smith hiring swayed his decision to return, to which he responded,
“You get excited about a coach that runs the ball which you know doesn’t happen very often,” Gurley said on NFL Network on Wednesday. “So you definitely get super excited about that. I definitely have to reach out to him and [Terry Fontenot] just to be able to talk to them to see what they’re thinking and just get a head start on the free agency thing.”
He didn’t particularly earn a large contract after his one-year prove-it deal with Atlanta, but he could attempt to increase his free-agent value in 2022 by succeeding in Atlanta’s new-look offense in 2021. Picturing what Gurley could be in Arthur Smith’s system should make you salivate, but I’m here to bring you back to reality. For starters, he is clearly not physically capable of carrying a full-time load as he did in Los Angeles — due to, in part, his arthritic knees. But I will say this, Terry Fontenot’s specialty is determining whether he can squeeze production out of a declining player. So if he thinks Gurley has enough left in the tank and the two sides could come to a reasonable one-year deal, I see no issues in running him in the committee approach.