When the Los Angeles Rams signed Todd Gurley to his huge four-year, $57.5 million, the goal was to get out ahead of the running back market. It was expected to blow up with David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott eventually signing lucrative contracts, so the Rams wanted to set the bar – and they set it high.

Les Snead even said the Rams wanted to “blaze the new standard” for running backs, which is exactly what they did. Bell is finally signing his long-awaited contract late Tuesday night, landing a four-year, $52.5 million deal with the New York Jets.

Comparing the basic structure of Bell’s deal to Gurley’s extension, it’s clear the Rams’ two-time All-Pro came out on top. He’s making $14.4 million per year compared to Bell’s $13.1 million annual salary as Gurley remains the highest-paid running back in the NFL. Bell’s contract does have a larger max value, however, though just barely.

We still don’t know how much Bell’s signing bonus was or how much is fully guaranteed at signing, but here’s how the deals stack up as of now.

  • 4 years, $57.5 million ($14.4M per year)
  • Max value: $60 million
  • Guarantees: $45 million
  • Signing bonus: $21 million
  • 4 years, $52.5 million ($13.1M per year)
  • Max value: $61 million
  • Guarantees: $35 million
  • Signing bonus: TBD

Gurley edged out Bell in every department except max value, which is likely due to incentives and other contract triggers that the two running backs can hit. Bell is two and a half years older than Gurley and has more wear on his proverbial tires, but it’s somewhat surprising to see his contract come in below Gurley’s after sitting out the 2018 season.

  Cognitive approach

Don’t get it wrong, Bell did well for himself. That’s a large chunk of change, but it’s certainly not what he expected to get. He even tweeted last year, coincidentally that $60 million wasn’t enough to come play for the Jets.

And the Steelers’ reported offer last offseason was better in some ways than the deal Bell got from the Jets. It was reportedly a five-year deal worth $70 million ($14 million per year) with $33 million in guarantees.

Gurley and the Rams set the running back market last year with his monstrous extension, so high that Bell wasn’t able to one-up the deal.