How Todd Gurley contract affects Chicago Bears

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 10: Jordan Howard /

Does the extension that Todd Gurley signed have any barring on the contract status of Jordan Howard with the Chicago Bears?

When Todd Gurley signed a four-year, $60 million contract with the LA Rams, it changed the dynamic of the entire running back market. Since Adrian Peterson signed an extension in 2011, no back has been able to reset the market until Gurley.

That speaks to the type of player in which Gurley is. However, from a Chicago Bears perspective, it means the team is likely going to have to open their pocketbooks up a bit more if they want to retain Jordan Howard.

As mentioned, the Adrian Peterson contract in 2011 changed the RB market. Peterson was set to make an Average Annual Value (AAV) of $14.2 and was going to see well over $30 million in guarantees.

The issue was that from that point forward, no running back was able even to come close to Peterson.

The two closest were LeSean McCoy in 2012 and DeMarco Murray in 2013. However, those deals were for $9, and $8.5 million AAV. With no running backs drafted in the first round in 2013 and 2014, along with Murray and McCoy being able to come close to Peterson saw a Wild Wild West of running back contracts.

No one could top McCoy, let alone compare to Adrian Peterson. The lack of common ground is what led to the Le’Veon Bell situation. Everyone agrees he deserved more than McCoy, however, where does he stand next to Peterson? That deal was in 2011. When factoring in inflation, someone should have been able to beat Peterson in the past seven years.

However, the Steelers and Bell could not come to terms given all of the wiggle room between McCoy and Peterson. Finally, right after the Bell talks stalled, Gurley came around to reset the market. He saw more than Peterson, but not a ridiculous amount more.

He did make a ridiculous amount more than McCoy, whose contract helped deflate the market and create such an impasse.

With that all explained, this is going to affect the Bears soon.  The market is reset, and running backs are going to use the Gurley contract before any other example. David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell are likely to top the Gurley contract in the next year or so.

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This means that the price for the franchise tag amongst running backs will go up, and the price for an average running back is bound to go up.

Just adding the Todd Gurley contract into the equation, the franchise tag is going to go up over $1.6 million per year. With David Johnson soon to join Gurley, the tag likely will go up at least another million by next year.

Before the Gurley contract, Devonta Freeman was the closest contract to argue for Jordan Howard. Freeman signed a five year, $41 million deal last season ($8 million AAV). Freeman is not quite as strong between the tackles as Howard but offers more in the passing game. His contract should have been a number similar to what Howard would have seen.

Now, by the time that Howard and the Bears get to the negotiating tables, there is a good chance that three backs will be making about $15 million AAV.

The Freeman contract is going to be so out of date by the time the Bears talk extension with Howard that it will hardly be a negotiating tool. Now, it will be on the Bears to talk Howard down from the elite numbers.

Johnson, Gurley, and Bell pass catch much more consistently than Howard, although he will have a full year to prove it. However, instead of the $8 million AAV that this team likely thought that they could get thanks to Devonta Freeman, they are now hoping that $12 million is more of a common ground number.

No matter how you put it, this likely cost the Bears a little more.