The Detroit Lions, who are contending for the No. 1 overall pick next year (yes, already), yet fail to admit it, might bring in an aging running back with arthritis to replace another other aging running back because they couldn’t possibly fathom giving their young, do-everything superstar running back D’Andre Swift the LION’S (ba-dum-TISS) share of the work… because Lions.
Yes, that Todd Gurley. The one that spent last season with the Atlanta Falcons and averaged only 3.5 yards per carry on knees that are battling arthritis. Gurley is a sad story — he was on top of the game between 2017 and 2018, where he had 2,093 scrimmage yards and 19 touchdowns in ’17, and 1,831 yards and 21 touchdowns in ’18. After dealing with knee injuries, however, the wheels began to fall off. His lateral agility is shot, and he doesn’t offer much over any replacement-level running back at this point in his career. From 2018 to 2020, his yards per carry dropped from 4.9 to 3.5. His 3.5 yards per carry last year was 5th worst in the NFL among qualified rushers (min. 100 carries). Ouch. At only 26 years old, his career is trending in the wrong direction.
The Lions signed Adrian Peterson off the street last year after he was cut by the Washington Football Team. The 36-year-old Peterson filled a decent role in the offence last year, logging 604 rushing yards at 3.9 yards per carry. However, it was the rookie second-round pick Swift who proved to have more upside, both in the rushing attack and in the passing game. Peterson is currently a free agent, so the Lions went out and signed Ja’Mall Williams from the Green Bay Packers.
Sure, that makes sense. If you think Peterson is gone in free agency, I can understand wanting more depth. Clearly they want to split backfield carries here, similarly to how Williams was used in Green Bay alongside Aaron Jones. To most people, myself included, I felt like this backfield was done and set for the season.
Then along comes this Gurley news, and honestly my only thought is — why? If you’re looking for a depth running back to give you decent but not outstanding production behind Swift and Williams, why not just sign Peterson back on a one-year contract? You’re going to get similar production from the two of them at this point, and Peterson would undoubtedly cost you less.
It’s sad that we’ve come to this with Gurley, but you would hope the guy would at least be able to latch on with a contender, instead of having to scrape the barrel in Detroit this year.