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Los Angeles Rams release their leading rusher, Todd Gurley

The move saves the team about $10 million that would have been guaranteed to the 25-year-old running back, but it still takes a $20.15 million salary cap hit.
Rams running back Todd Gurley, right, scores past Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers during the second half of Los Angeles' 28-12 win on Dec. 8, 2019.
Rams running back Todd Gurley, right, scores past Seahawks cornerback Tre Flowers during the second half of Los Angeles' 28-12 win on Dec. 8, 2019. [ KYUSUNG GONG | AP ]
Published Mar. 19, 2020
Updated Mar. 20, 2020

Todd Gurley has gone from the NFL’s top running back to looking for a job.

In a move designed to save the Los Angeles Rams about $10 million that would have become guaranteed Thursday, the team said goodbye to Gurley. Perhaps the game’s best rusher in 2017 and ’18 but plagued by knee problems lately, Gurley has been sent on a route diametrically opposite to such big names as Tom Brady, headed to Tampa Bay, and Philip Rivers, now with Indianapolis.

Los Angeles still will get a $20.15 million hit on its salary cap space. Gurley, 25, a 2015 first-round pick out of Georgia, signed a four-year, $60 million contract with $45 million guaranteed in June 2018.

But after helping the Rams to the NFC title that season, he injured his left knee and it slowed him considerably — first in the postseason run to the Super Bowl, then all of last season. He finished with a career-low 857 yards on 223 carries last season, though that still led the Rams in rushing and was ninth in the NFC. He also led the team in touchdowns with 14, including 12 rushing, which was tied for fourth in the NFC.

Gurley reacted to his departure from his only NFL club with good humor.

“Damn I got fired on my day off,” he tweeted, along with a quarantine-related hashtag.

“All Business Nothing Personal,” he added in a subsequent tweet.

Gurley’s release can’t be comforting to other running backs around the NFL. If he is expendable — yes, the contract and injury played a key role — then can any running back feel secure?

Earlier Thursday, the Lions agreed to trade their best cornerback, Darius Slay, to Philadelphia. Agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed the trade and that Slay has agreed to a three-year, $50 million extension with the Eagles.

Slay wanted a new contract before last season and did not attend Detroit's mandatory minicamp. He ended up reporting to training camp and played well enough to earn a third Pro Bowl nod.

The Eagles need help in the secondary. Cornerback Ronald Darby is not expected to return, and the team is not bringing back safety Malcolm Jenkins.

Denver waived 2013 Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. He had lost his job to rookie Drew Lock last season and also has neck issues that could affect him if he continues playing.

The Ravens confirmed their trade for veteran defensive end Calais Campbell.

Also Thursday, the NFL changed course and will be allowing teams to announce signings they have reached with free agents, as well as trades, when all paperwork is filed.

Though the league's business year began Wednesday the NFL instructed teams to hold back direct confirmations of those transactions because they are not official until contracts are signed and players have taken physicals. The agreements and trades leaked out anyway.

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On Thursday the NFL sent a memo to the 32 teams telling them it has clarified its policy.

Once teams make official any signings that are listed on the daily transactions that the league provides, there is no prohibition on announcing those moves. Those contracts must be agreed upon and submitted to all parties, including the player and agent. Similarly, trades can be announced once the paperwork has been submitted.

The league has barred travel by players to team facilities and also halted club personnel traveling to meet with free agents as a safeguard against the new coronavirus.

Here is a time-marked rundown by the Associated Press of Thursday’s NFL moves. All times Eastern:

7:40 p.m.

Alex Tanney is going to have competition to be the backup to Daniel Jones with the Giants.

New York has agreed to terms with veteran Colt McCoy on a one-year contract.

Entering his 11th season, McCoy spent the past six years primarily as a backup in Washington, making seven starts.

He was a third-round selection in 2010 by Cleveland, where he made 21 of his 28 starts over three seasons. He also played for the San Francisco 49ers.

Two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning retired after this past season, a campaign that saw him lose the starting job to Jones.

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6:30 p.m.

The Green Bay Packers are holding on to safety Will Redmond.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said that Redmond has agreed to terms on a new contract.

The 26-year-old Redmond has played in 18 regular-season games with four starts for the Packers over the past two seasons. He also appeared in each of the Packers’ two playoff games last year.

His nine special teams tackles last year tied for the team lead.

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6:20 p.m.

The Browns found their nickel back, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with free agent cornerback Kevin Johnson.

Cleveland’s secondary was thin and in need of another cornerback so general manager Andrew Berry locked up Johnson, who played for Buffalo last season after four in Houston.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Johnson started just one game with the Bills. He played at Wake Forest. He’s the fourth defensive free agent locked up by Berry.

The Browns have two solid young cornerbacks in Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams — both former first-round picks — and Johnson should fill a troublesome spot by covering slot receivers.

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6:10 p.m.

Quarterback Nick Foles says he is “looking forward to the next part of the journey” with the Chicago Bears after losing his starting job during an injury-riddled season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Foles wrote Thursday on Instagram last season was “an emotional one with many twists and turns” and that he and his wife Tori are “thankful for those special relationships” they developed during his lone season with the Jaguars. He also posted a mock trading card with him in a Bears uniform with the No. 9.

Chicago acquired Foles from Jacksonville for a compensatory fourth-round pick on Wednesday, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press.

The 2018 Super Bowl MVP with Philadelphia, Foles is expected to challenge Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job. Foles signed a four-year, $88 million contract that included $50.125 million guaranteed with Jacksonville prior to last season. He broke his left collarbone early in the opener, missed the next eight games and got benched in his third game back. Rookie Gardner Minshew played well enough in his absence to make him expendable.

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5:50 p.m.

The Green Bay Packers have canceled their annual tailgate tour as they attempt to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

Packers officials said they made the decision based on the safety guidelines that include limiting crowd sizes and promoting social distancing.

The Packers said they would donate $25,000 each to Habitat For Humanity, Special Olympics Wisconsin and Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

All those organizations stood to benefit from the tour, which would have included stops in La Crosse, Madison and Milwaukee from May 15-17.

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5:35 p.m.

The Tennessee Titans have confirmed trading five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Jurrell Casey to the Denver Broncos for a seventh-round pick in April’s draft.

General manager Jon Robinson says in a statement that Casey was the first of the Titans he met when hired as general manager. Robinson says it’s been an honor to work with Casey the past four seasons and wishes the lineman nothing but the best and that his legacy won’t be forgotten.

Casey also commented Thursday about the unexpected trade in a social media post, writing that it took him a few hours to process. He wrote the Titans took a chance on him nine years ago and he wouldn’t change a thing.

But Casey wrote that he would be lying if he didn’t admit being confused and hurt even though this is a business. He says now it’s time for even better things in Denver.

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4:25 p.m.

The Arizona Cardinals have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.

The 6-foot-3, 232-pound Campbell played his first four seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and hasn’t missed a game over the past three seasons. He started 15 of 16 games in 2019 and had a career-high 129 tackles, including 75 solo tackles, six tackles for loss and two sacks.

Campbell is one of three players the Cardinals have signed to beef up their struggling defense, which gave up the most total yards in the NFL last season. Arizona also announced it has agreed to three-year deals with defensive lineman Jordan Phillips and linebacker Devon Kennard.

They’ll join a core of productive players from last year’s defense, including edge rusher Chandler Jones, who had a career-high 19 sacks last season.

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3:55 p.m.

The Jacksonville Jaguars made several moves official by announcing the trade of five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Calais Campbell to Baltimore and three free-agent additions: linebacker Joe Schobert, cornerback Darqueze Dennard and defensive lineman Rodney Gunter.

The team previously announced the trade of cornerback A.J. Bouye to Denver. The trade of quarterback Nick Foles to Chicago remains unannounced.

Schobert will eventually sign a five-year contract worth $53.75 million and includes $22.5 million guaranteed.

Dennard agreed to a three-year deal worth $13.5 million and includes $6 million guaranteed.

Gunter will sign a three-year contract worth $18 million.

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3:45 p.m.

The Minnesota Vikings and kicker Dan Bailey have agreed to terms on a new contract.

Bailey was fourth in the NFL in 2019 with a 93.1 percent field goal rate, his best since 2015. Bailey made 27 of 29 kicks, including all three tries from 50-plus yards. Bailey also landed touchbacks on 66 of 87 kickoffs.

Since joining the team two games into the 2018 season, Bailey has stabilized a critical position that had been in flux for several years. The 32-year-old joined veteran punter Britton Colquitt in returning to the Vikings, after both specialists became free agents.

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2:55 p.m.

The Cleveland Browns beefed up their defensive front, agreeing to terms with former Bengals tackle Andrew Billings.

His agency announced the move with a posting on Twitter.

Billings is the third defensive player to strike a deal with the Browns in the past 24 hours. The team reached deals with linebacker B.J. Goodson and safety Karl Joseph on Wednesday.

A fourth-round pick in 2016 from Baylor, Billings sat out his rookie season with a knee injury. He’s started 37 games, 30 over the past two seasons while recording 67 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks and 12 tackles for loss.

He’s expected to start up front with Sheldon Richardson and Larry Ogunjobi.

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2:45 p.m.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff and left tackle Andrew Whitworth have donated $250,000 apiece to pay for 2 million meals with the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

The Rams announced the charitable donation as the first gift heading into a virtual telethon in conjunction with KABC-TV, to be held next Tuesday. The money raised will benefit the food bank and United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Pandemic Relief Fund.

The 38-year-old Whitworth agreed to a three-year contract Wednesday to stay with the Rams. He has spent the past three seasons with the Rams, while Goff was the Rams’ first draft pick after returning home to Los Angeles.

“Tough times, like what we’re experiencing now, really show you the true value and importance of community,” Whitworth said. “We’re here to wrap our arms around our hurting neighbors, let them know that they aren’t forgotten, and that we are here for them.”

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2:10 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills have confirmed signing safety Jordan Poyer to a two-year contract extension, which locks up the three-year starter through the 2022 season.

Poyer was entering the final year of the four-year contract. The deal was initially agreed to on Tuesday, and announced by the Bills on Thursday.

The 28-year-old has seven seasons of NFL experience and has been part of a formidable backfield alongside safety Micah Hyde and cornerback Tre’Davious White. The Bills allowed the fourth-fewest yards passing in the NFL last season, a year after finishing first in that category.

The trio has been together since 2017, coach Sean McDermott’s first in Buffalo.

Poyer has 11 interceptions in 47 games with Buffalo, and had a team-leading four forced fumbles last season.

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1:25 p.m.

A person familiar with the deal says the San Francisco 49ers have agreed to a one-year contract worth about $3 million with free agent guard Tom Compton.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal can’t be signed until Compton passes a physical.

Compton will help fill the void created by the planned release of Mike Person. Person started at right guard last season but struggled in pass protection.

Compton is the first outside free agent to agree to a deal with San Francisco since the start of the league year. He has ties to Niners coach Kyle Shanahan having spent time with him in Washington and Atlanta. Compton also played in Chicago and Minnesota before spending last season with the New York Jets.

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11:45 a.m.

Darius Slay got what he was waiting for — a trade out of Detroit and a big new contract.

The Lions agreed to trade Slay to the Philadelphia Eagles, ending the standout cornerback’s seven-year stint in Detroit.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed the trade Thursday and that Slay has agreed to a three-year, $50 million extension with Philadelphia. The Lions drafted Slay 36th overall in 2013, and he earned All-Pro honors in 2017.

Slay wanted a new contract before last season and did not attend Detroit’s mandatory minicamp. He ended up reporting to training camp and played well enough to earn a third Pro Bowl nod.

Still, if there were any doubts about Slay’s wishes for the future, they seemed to be dispelled Wednesday night after ESPN reported that Detroit had reached an agreement with cornerback Desmond Trufant. Slay tweeted that he wanted out.

“Congrats to my guy!!!! Hope that speeds up my trade process!!” the tweet said.

Slay has 19 interceptions in his NFL career, including two last season.

ESPN, citing an unidentified source, reported that the Lions will receive 2020 draft picks in the third and fifth rounds for Slay.

The Eagles needed help in the secondary. Cornerback Ronald Darby is not expected to return, and the team is not bringing back safety Malcolm Jenkins. Philadelphia had the cap space and draft picks available to pull off a move such as this.

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was Detroit’s coach when Slay was a rookie in 2013.

The Lions are overhauling a defense that ranked 31st in the league last season. Detroit agreed to a two-year deal with defensive tackle Danny Shelton and a trade bringing safety Duron Harmon to the Lions from New England.

Detroit has also reportedly agreed to deals with Trufant, linebacker Jamie Collins and defensive tackle Nick Williams. The Lions released defensive tackle Damon Harrison and linebacker Devon Kennard.

This could be a make-or-break year for Detroit coach Matt Patricia, who is 9-22-1 after two seasons at the helm. The defensive struggles have been particularly jarring, since Patricia was a defensive coordinator with New England before taking over the Lions.