THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead sat alongside Eric Weddle on Tuesday as they introduced the veteran safety as their newly signed free agent.
The topic, however, turned — as it has since he inexplicably disappeared in the NFC Championship Game — to running back Todd Gurley II and the status of his left knee.
Snead was asked multiple times if Gurley has arthritis in his knee, which was surgically repaired in 2014, and which kept him sidelined because of inflammation and soreness in the final two games of the regular season.
But Snead repeatedly avoided the question.
“What we said is he’s had a lot of carries over the last few years,” Snead said. “And so anything you hear us say, any plan is basically hey — and I would say this not just with Todd Gurley, right, it might be with our wide receivers because they’ve played a lot of snaps over the last few years — is hey, what can we do to help those guys be as fresh as possible at the end of the season.”
Last season, Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards and scored a league-best 21 touchdowns in 14 games. Including the postseason, Gurley had 286 carries.
Snead was asked to verify the accuracy of a report, citing unnamed sources, that said Gurley has arthritis.
Snead responded: “That would be good then, because all you got to do is take Aleve. Right?”
And finally, when told that it was a “yes” or “no” question, Snead provided no definitive answer.
“With all NFL players when it comes to trying to be fresh at the end of the year, there is an element of probably shades of gray of how fresh you are and what that reason is,” Snead said. “So I would counter your, ‘It’s either a yes or a no.’ I’m not sure you’ve ever gone through a 16-game NFL season, but if you have you probably would understand that shade of gray.”
McVay also was asked if Gurley was hindered by arthritis late in the season. “I don’t know exactly medically when you categorize what arthritis is,” McVay said, adding, “I do know that just from the amount of work that he’s had, there’s been a wear and tear on that knee.”
As questions loom over Gurley’s knee, and whether he is suffering from a potential long-term ailment, this much is certain: Gurley, who last July signed a four-year extension worth $60 million, with $45 million guaranteed, remains the Rams’ starting running back.
But the Rams also are intent on fielding a second back who can be depended on to carry some of the load.
Budget allowing, C.J. Anderson is a priority to bring back in free agency. Malcolm Brown, who received an original-round tender on Tuesday, also is a candidate to get more time in the backfield.
Brown suffered a clavicle injury in Week 13 against the Detroit Lions that sidelined him for the season. Before the injury, Brown proved himself as a reliable backup as he rushed for 212 yards in 43 carries and caught five passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Anderson was cut by three teams last season before he joined the Rams in mid-December. In Gurley’s absence, the sixth-year pro rushed for a combined 299 yards and two touchdowns against the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.
“I got a really good gut that if we go the free-agent route it will be re-signing C.J.,” Snead said. “Because the key was you want all those guys to complement each other. So that would be my gut in free agency.”
Gurley and Anderson shared the load in a divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys as they combined for 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns. McVay said their performance inspired a game plan that included shared carries in the NFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LIII.
Former Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold intends to sign a four-year, $44 million deal that includes $22.5 million guaranteed with the Tennessee Titans, a source tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Last season, Saffold played an instrumental role in helping to protect quarterback Jared Goff as he passed for 4,688 yards and 32 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, and was sacked 33 times. Saffold also helped spring running back Todd Gurley to a second consecutive 1,000-plus-yard season, as Gurley rushed for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Saffold was third among all guards in ESPN’s Pass Block Win Rate last season (min. 300 blocks), holding his blocks for at least 2.5 seconds 87.4 percent of the time, according to NFL Next Gen Stats.
Former Los Angeles Rams franchise safety Lamarcus Joyner plans to sign a four-year deal with the Oakland Raiders, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The deal is worth $42 million with $21.3 million guaranteed, $16.7 million of which is fully guaranteed at signing, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano.
After the Los Angeles Rams and Joyner were unable to come to a long-term agreement, he played last season on the franchise tag and earned $11.28 million. He intercepted one pass and ranked third on the team with 78 tackles.
The Raiders’ deal with Joyner comes just two days after the team reportedly agreed to a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers for All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. Oakland will be handing Brown a three-year deal worth up to $54.125 million, with $30.125 million guaranteed, a source told Schefter.
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — At this time last year, the Los Angeles Rams were working on winning the offseason. With a new league year set to begin Wednesday, an attempt to recapture that momentum is underway.
On Sunday night, the eve of the legal tampering period, the Rams agreed to terms on a new contract with outside linebacker Dante Fowler. A source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter it is a one-year deal.
Two days earlier, the Rams signed Eric Weddle to a two-year deal worth up to $12.5 million, with $5.25 million guaranteed, following the veteran safety’s release by the Baltimore Ravens.
The return of Fowler and addition of Weddle, a two-time All Pro and six-time Pro Bowl selection, solves two glaring needs before free agency begins.
Coming off an appearance in Super Bowl LIII, the Rams have a host of starters who are set to test the market Monday: Left guard Rodger Saffold, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and safety Lamarcus Joyner.
Prior to Sunday night’s agreement, Fowler also was expected to test the market as an unrestricted free agent.
Prior to Fowler’s new deal and Weddle’s addition, the Rams had $35.1 million in salary cap space, according to ESPN Stats and Information. They declined to pick up the second-year option on center John Sullivan’s contract and released inside linebacker Mark Barron. Those moves saved more than $13 million in their salary cap.
This offseason, defensive players have taken priority.
Fowler’s return solves the most pressing offseason need of securing a pass-rusher, a must-have position in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.
“He’s got a motor and he loves football and he certainly is talented,” Rams coach Sean McVay told reporters at the combine. “So definitely want to be able to try and get Dante back and that would be a big part of emphasis for us.”
The Rams acquired Fowler from the Jacksonville Jaguars ahead of the trade deadline. He played in eight regular-season games and had two sacks, a forced fumble and pass deflection. His contributions steadily grew, and his biggest impact was felt in the NFC Championship Game, when he had a key pressure against Drew Brees that forced the veteran quarterback into an errant throw that was intercepted.
Rams general manager Les Snead said Fowler was a priority to sign in free agency, instead the Rams do not have to worry about bidding against other teams in a market hot for pass-rushers.
Weddle’s addition satisfies the need for a safety.
Last season, Joyner played on the franchise tag and earned $11.28 million after the two sides were unable to come to terms on an extension. Joyner was set to test the market, but after the Rams signed Weddle, it is clear that Joyner will be moving on in a crowded field of free agent safeties.
Weddle, 34, will start alongside third-year pro John Johnson III. In three seasons with the Ravens, Weddle intercepted 10 passes — though he experienced a drop in production last season with no interceptions, and only three pass deflections.
Even with their needs at outside linebacker and safety solved ahead of free agency, the Rams still must bulk up their linebacking corps and find a starter to replace Barron, build depth on the offensive line in case Saffold signs a lucrative deal elsewhere, and solidify the defensive line as Suh tests the market.