When it comes to new-money average, Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott beat Rams running back Todd Gurley by $625,000 per year — $15 million to $14.375 million. But there are more factors to the Elliott vs. Gurley contract than new-money average.
So let’s compare the two contracts, under various metrics.
Signing bonus: Gurley got a whopping $21 million. Elliott’s is only $7.5 million.
Fist-year salary: Gurley received $950,000, fully guaranteed at signing. Elliott gets $752,000, fully guaranteed at signing.
Second-year compensation: Gurley received $5 million, guaranteed for injury at signing and fully guaranteed on the third day of the second league year. Elliott has $19.8 million, fully guaranteed at signing.
Cash flow through two years: Gurley is at $26.95 million. Elliott will be at $28.05 million.
Third-year compensation: Gurley received $13.05 million, $7.55 million of which is guaranteed on the third day of the second league year and $5.5 million of which is guaranteed on the third day of the third league year. Elliott gets $9.6 million, fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the second league year.
Cash flow through three years: Gurley gets $40 million. Elliott will be at $38.1 million.
Fouth-year compensation: Gurley gets $9.5 million, $5 million of which is fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the third league year. Elliott gets $12.4 million, all of which is fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the third league year.
Cash flow through four years: $49.5 million for Gurley, and $50.05 million for Elliott.
Full guarantee at signing: Gurley received $21.95 million. Elliott will get $28 million.
Total annual average at signing: Gurley is at $11.574 million per year, and Elliott is at $12.86 million per year.
Total commitment from player: Six years for Gurley, eight years for Elliott.
The biggest practical difference between the two contracts is that the Rams likely already regret paying Gurley, given a chronic knee problem that apparently will keep him from being a workhorse tailback. The Cowboys may or may not regret paying Elliott; regardless, they’re basically on the hook for $50.05 million through four years, unless they cut the cord in March 2021, after only two seasons and a total payout (including guarantees) of $38.1 million.