ATLANTA — Todd Gurley didn't wait long to find his new NFL home.
The Atlanta Falcons didn't wait long to celebrate the deal.
"WE GOT HIM," the Falcons exclaimed on their Twitter account early Friday, soon after news emerged of Gurley's $6 million, one-year contract with the Falcons.
The agreement was confirmed to The Associated Press by a person familiar with the deal. The person confirmed the agreement on condition of anonymity because the deal will not be official until Gurley passes a physical. The NFL isn't allowing players to report to new teams immediately for those physicals during the coronavirus pandemic.
The agreement was reached less than 24 hours after Gurley was released by the Los Angeles Rams. The three-time Pro Bowl running back was released Thursday just minutes before $10.5 million in his contract with the Rams became fully guaranteed.
The Falcons had good reason to celebrate the news. They needed a replacement for Devonta Freeman as the leader of their ground game, and the arrival of Gurley — a former University of Georgia standout who rushed for more than 3,000 yards in three seasons with the Bulldogs — should be good news for ticket sales.
The agreement with the 25-year-old Gurley, the No. 10 overall draft pick in 2015, came less than a week after the Falcons released Freeman. Atlanta ranked only 30th in the NFL in rushing in 2019 and hopes for a significant boost from Gurley, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in three of his five seasons with the Rams.
He ran for just 857 yards last season, his worst total as an NFL player. His average of 3.8 yards per carry was the second lowest of his career.
Gurley's physical will be especially important. He had a persistent left knee injury that limited his effectiveness late in 2018, and the problem persisted last season, though Gurley played in 15 games.
When healthy, Gurley has been one of the most productive backs in the league as a runner and a receiver. He leads the NFL with 58 rushing touchdowns since he joined the league in 2015. His 5,404 rushing yards in that span rank second, a yard behind Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott.
Gurley has averaged 43.6 catches per season in the NFL, with a high of 64 for 788 yards and six touchdowns in 2017.
He signed a four-year, $60 million contract with the Rams in June 2018, making him the league's highest-paid running back at the time. The deal included $45 million in guaranteed earnings, but Gurley was cut before playing the first year of that extension.
The agreement with Gurley is the second significant move of free agency for the Falcons. The team addressed another pressing need Wednesday by agreeing to a $48 million, three-year deal with outside linebacker Dante Fowler, who is expected to boost the team's pass rush, a chronic weak spot. Fowler played for the Rams in 2019 after being traded by the Jacksonville Jaguars to Los Angeles during the 2018 season.
Gurley joins an Atlanta offense that also includes quarterback Matt Ryan, the NFL MVP for the 2016 season in which the Falcons reached the Super Bowl, and wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, both former Alabama Crimson Tide standouts. Jones is a five-time All-Pro, including first-team selections for 2015 and 2016, and Ridley had a strong rookie year in 2018 and posted similar numbers last season despite missing the final three games due to injury.
The offense took an offseason hit when tight end Austin Hooper, a two-time Pro Bowl pick, agreed to a deal with the Cleveland Browns. Atlanta acquired tight end Hayden Hurst from Baltimore on Monday, adding him and a 2020 fourth-round pick from the Ravens in exchange for second- and fifth-round picks in this year's draft.
Atlanta also cut cornerback Desmond Trufant, offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo and tight end Luke Stocker this week, clearing salary cap space for other moves.
On Friday the Falcons also re-signed safety Sharrod Neasman to a one-year contract. Neasman, who was an unrestricted free agent, played in 15 games last season and had four tackles on special teams.