Who Said You Can’t Come Home?
By: JJ Lanier
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
It almost felt like one of those NFL retirement signings, where a team signs a former great to a one day contract so said player can retire a member of a particular team.
Only, in this case Todd Gurley has never played for the Falcons, nor was born in Georgia.
However, I guess when you’ve been a star player for the University of Georgia, it kind of feels like it’s always been your home.
A lot has been made, and will likely continue to be made, about Gurley’s injury, why Los Angeles handled his workload the way they did over the past season plus, as well as their willingness to accept a hit of over $20 million in dead salary-cap space this season to get out from under his contract- all of which are legitimate concerns.
The arthritis in Gurley’s knee isn’t going to get better and if actions speak louder than words, Los Angeles’ actions are the non-verbal form of “Fire, everybody get out!”
Having said all that, I think the signing can be very advantageous for both Gurley and the Falcons, as long as everyone keeps things in perspective.
For Atlanta the signing is a low risk- high reward move, beginning with the contract. Obviously, Gurley is no longer a featured, every down back, hence the
1 year/$5 million contract. That doesn’t mean he can’t be productive and justify his paycheck.
If Atlanta not only limits his touches, but more importantly can figure out how to manage those touches and use Gurley in situations he’ll be most effective, he could become an extremely impactful player.
His arrival also ignited some much needed enthusiasm among a fan base that like most of America right now, could use it.
On the flip side, if none of that happens and it becomes clear Gurley can’t be productive, Atlanta really hasn’t lost anything. Plus, they don’t have much salary cap space available, so it’s not like there were a lot of different options out there for the Falcons to choose from.
As for Gurley, I like the move for a couple reasons. For one, I think he’ll fit in well with Atlanta’s offense. He’s not going to be the focal point of the offense and the Falcon’s passing game should help him not see as many eight man fronts when he is in.
Also, and this goes back to my initial paragraph, he’s coming “home” in a way. The fan base is going to be more supportive and will allow more time to adjust, than he probably would receive if he were to have signed somewhere else.
When you look at some of the factors, like Gurley’s contract and Miami’s decision to bring in Jordan Howard over Gurley, the message seems pretty clear that this upcoming season is a make or break year for the former Georgia running back. (As a side note, considering the Dolphins lack of success with free agents and choosing one over another, I wouldn’t blame you if you actually looked at their signing Howard as a good thing for Gurley.)
Gurley’s arrival in Atlanta truly does have the makings of a win-win for both sides, something you don’t see too often in sports today. And if not, he’ll at least be able to end it close to where he started…kind of.