The Rams hope that running back Todd Gurley can play right away. The contract he signs reflects a somewhat lower degree of optimism.
Per a source with knowledge of the deal, Gurley’s contract includes a commitment from the Rams to pay Gurley’s full salary in 2015 and 2016, if he lands on the non-football injury list in both seasons due to the knee injury that occurred while he was playing college football at Georgia.
The contract also gives the Rams a way out from under the final two years of the contract, if the team eventually determines that Gurley won’t be able to recover from the torn ACL. If the deal is terminated due to the pre-existing knee injury, the Rams are on the hook only for the 2015 and 2016 base salaries.
Otherwise, the base salaries for all four years of the contract are guaranteed. And he gets an $8.3 million signing bonus, which will only be subject to reimbursement if he chooses to retire (and if the Rams choose to collect any unearned amounts).
The contract does not offset language for the guaranteed money; the Rams typically remove offset language from their first-round rookie deals. But the guaranteed money for 2017 and 2018 can be avoided entirely if Gurley is cut due to the pre-existing knee injury.
So if he never is able to pass a physical with the Rams, he gets the signing bonus and the base salaries for 2015 and 2016. Once he passes a physical, the full contract is guaranteed, without offset.
UPDATE 11:28 a.m. ET: A prior version of this article indicated that the contract has offset language for the guarantees. A Rams source tells PFT that the information disseminated by the NFLPA regarding that point was not accurate.