The Atlanta Falcons officially announced that they had agreed to terms with running back Todd Gurley on Monday, securing one of the more notable free agents of the NFL offseason.
At his best, Gurley is a game-changing offensive weapon capable of single-handedly taking over any contest. The Los Angeles Rams notably stated they were managing Gurley's workload last season, and although there was no official word from the team as to why, reports surfaced that the running back's knee could be the issue.
During a conference call with local media on Tuesday, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff expressed optimism about Gurley's future in Atlanta and how he will hold up, physically.
"He really takes care of his body well, and he'll continue to work on it," Dimitroff said of the team's new running back. "We'll continue to be very mindful about what we are dealing with. We feel very comfortable with it … He's a hard-charging runner, and he's an excellent football player; and we are counting on him being an excellent football player for us."
Gurley's 223 carries in 2019 were the fewest of his five-year NFL career, but he still managed 857 yards and 12 touchdowns. With an additional 207 receiving yards on 31 catches, Gurley again surpassed 1,000 total yards from scrimmage, something he's achieved each year in the league. The last Falcons running back to gain more than 857 yards in a single season was Devonta Freeman in 2017, when he amassed 865 yards and seven touchdowns.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has made it difficult for teams across the NFL to conduct physicals with newly signed free agents, and Gurley is no different. Although the Falcons have yet to conduct a team physical with Gurley, Dimitroff said they looked at the situation closely and placed language in the contract agreement that would deal with any potential issues.
"We have language in our contracts that are going to protect us and a player," Dimitroff said. "If a player comes and has an issue that he might not pass a physical, then that's something we will address then. We're not looking at it that way.
"As far as his contributing to our team, if and when, which I'm going to say when he passes our physical, I think he's going to do a very good job contributing to this offense. Again, thinking about all of the skills that he brings to the table for us, not only as a runner but also as a guy that can catch the ball, we are very encouraged by what we think he can add to us."
The Falcons parted ways with Freeman this offseason, but they figure to bring back the rest of their running back group. Behind Gurley, the Falcons have Ito Smith, Brian Hill, a tendered free agent, and Qadree Ollison.
Smith has shown flashes in his first two seasons of becoming a solid No. 2 option, but he missed the second half of the 2019 season due to injury. Hill has looked like a different player since the Falcons brought him back into the fold in 2018, and he finished with a career-high 323 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns after taking over Smith's backup role last season. As a rookie in 2019, Ollison became the team's top goal-line option down the stretch, and he finished with a team-high four rushing touchdowns.
With the addition of Gurley, Dimitroff seems content with the group Atlanta has in place. He's now said on several different occasions that the team favors a multi-back approach, something that many teams around the league employ.
"I think we have a group of running backs that can contribute," Dimitroff said. "I'm a big believer, as I've mentioned before, that it's not just about one person running all of the runs. We're a big mix-up team. We think that's a very important part of making sure we rotate our guys through there. They all come to the table with different positives and different traits. … We feel really good about the group of running backs that we have with Todd Gurley at the front of the line."
The Atlanta Falcons announced Monday that they've officially agreed to terms with former Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley. Gurley is a three-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All-Pro.