The Los Angeles Rams agreed to a four-year contract extension with Todd Gurley worth nearly $15 million a year, making him the highest-paid running back in the NFL, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports.

Todd Gurley contract extension
Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams eludes Jadeveon Clowney of the Houston Texans during a 2017 regular season NFL game. (Image: Alex Gallardo/AP)

Sources told Schefter that the deal will keep Gurley with the team until 2023, and includes a total of nearly $60 million in salary, $45 million of which is guaranteed – the largest guarantee every earned by a running back.

Along with a $20 million signing bonus, Gurley is now receiving the highest average annual salary of any running back in the league, setting a new benchmark for other running backs who are seeking new contracts in the offseason.

Gurley Powers Rams’ Offense

In a league that has increasingly moved away from the running game in recent years, Gurley has been an exception to that trend. After running for 1,106 yards in 2015 on his way to becoming the NFL Rookie of the Year, he struggled during his second year in the league.

But Gurley bounced back last season to become the focus point in a dynamic Rams offense, helping Los Angeles to an 11-5 record and an NFL West title. Gurley not only rushed for 1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns, but he also became a threat in the passing game, catching 64 passes for six more scores. That was enough to make Gurley the NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

According to Rams coach Sean McVay, Gurley’s value to the team goes well beyond the numbers he puts up.

“I think last year’s production isn’t really a reflection of the value that he provides because he did such a great job, but he’s so much more than that to our team,” McVay said at a press conference after news of the extension broke on Tuesday. “The way that he competes in protection, the way that he works, and the way that rubs off on his teammates.”

New Baseline for RB Negotiations

As big as the signing was for Los Angeles, it might mean even more to the league’s running backs. In a market that was waiting for a reset, the Gurley contract should allow other RBs to negotiate for higher salaries. Before the extension, Le’Veon Bell had the league’s highest pay for a running back, earning $14.5 million under the franchise player tag with the Pittsburgh Steelers. After Bell, the next-highest salary was just $8.25 million for Devonta Freeman of the Atlanta Falcons.

Gurley’s extension should give other backs who are looking for new agreements – like Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys and Arizona’s David Johnson – a higher baseline to work from in negotiations.

The extension is the second major deal for the rams this month. Last week, Los Angeles signed wide receiver Brandin Cooks to a five-year extension worth $80 million.

With the key components to their offense coming back, the Rams are considered one of the favorites to contend for a Super Bowl title in the coming season. William Hill has Los Angeles listed as a 10/1 pick to win a title next year, behind last year’s Super Bowl teams: the New England Patriots (5/1) and Philadelphia Eagles (9/1).