The Detroit Lions appeared to be set at running back heading into the 2021 season with Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift sharing the workload. Detroit may be looking to add even more intrigue to the rotation, as Todd Gurley is set to visit the Lions in the hopes of landing a contract with the team, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
If Gurley signs with the Lions, he would be reunited with Jared Goff — who was his quarterback with the Los Angeles Rams from 2016 to 2019. Gurley led the NFL with 48 rushing touchdowns during that stretch, eight more than Ezekiel Elliott (second on that list with 40). Gurley rushed for 2,556 yards and 30 touchdowns in the 2017 and 2018 seasons with Goff, as the Rams won two NFC West titles and advanced to Super Bowl LIII. Gurley also 123 catches for 1,368 yards and 10 touchdowns during that stretch.
Since that 2018 season, Gurley’s knee issues played a role in his production being diminished. Of the 10 running backs with 400-plus carries over the last two years, Gurley is last in yards per carry (3.67) and rushing yards (1,535). He is fourth in rushing touchdowns (21) during that span.
Gurley would compete for carries with Williams and Swift in the Lions’ running back rotation and would clearly be the top red zone option in Detroit’s offense. His 67 rushing touchdowns since his rookie year in 2015 lead the league, 12 more than Derrick Henry (who is second with 55). The Lions already have an interesting development at running back, viewing Williams — a free agent signing — as an “A” running back.
“I like to break the backs down into ‘A’ and ‘B,” Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said last week. “My ‘A’ backs are normally my bigger backs. They can run between the tackles, block probably a little better than a ‘B’ back, they can also run the perimeter. I can leave those guys in there for all three downs.”
Gurley could compete with Williams for that “A” role if he signs with Detroit, as he’s looking to rekindle the production he once had in Los Angeles. While the tread may be wearing on Gurley’s tires, he will only be 27 this August. There is still time for Gurley to turn his career around.