A year earlier, Gurley found himself on his way out of town less than two years after he'd signed a lucrative extension that seemed to cement his place in Los Angeles for years to come. The running back had been cut by the Rams, who deemed the franchise would be better off parting ways with the former NFL Offensive Player of the Year and allocating his money elsewhere instead of keeping him around.
Goff, who had just earned $31 million but had yet to begin the four years of his own lavish extension, was shipped to the Lions with a haul of picks for Matthew Stafford in a blockbuster quarterback swap that left Goff just happy to be headed "somewhere that I know wants me and appreciates me."
Gurley found that, too, in Atlanta, where he rushed for 678 yards and nine touchdowns on 195 carries. It wasn't spectacular, but it was a significant role with an NFL team after his former employer cast him aside.
"Well, another situation where I wasn't surprised again," Gurley said of the trade that sent Goff to the Lions during a Wednesday appearance on NFL Network. "But you know, I like Goff, I like Goff, he's a good guy. Don't nobody care about who's a good guy. I'm just happy he'll be able to go somewhere and hopefully those guys welcome him with open arms and just not be judgmental and just let him play. He's been a No. 1 pick for a reason, and he has a lot of ball left in him. I just want him to be happy, and I just want him to be able to go out there.
"It could be a good thing for him, you know? Just add an extra chip on your shoulder. A lot of players like to play with chips on their shoulder, but it's a lot different when you're a franchise quarterback and you take your team to the Super Bowl and two years later you're on a whole other team. Like I told him, man, love him, just want him to be happy and keep doing what you're doing."
A little bit of extra motivation doesn't hurt, and Goff will have the sting of being shipped away by the team that no longer loves you to drive him to strive for new heights with his new team. As Gurley pointed out, we can't forget where these Rams were just two seasons ago: in a Super Bowl, preparing to face Tom Brady's Patriots in a game that very well could have been a torch-passing to Goff.
Now, that seems so foolish, even when Goff hasn't exactly fallen off a cliff in terms of performance. Sure, his turnovers became an issue in 2020, but when Goff was on, he was really on. There's evidence that he can be a high-level passer in this league, as long as he can cut down on mistakes and find the right situation for him.
Perhaps that situation is in Detroit, where he'll have time to grow and work through his struggles without the pressure of a big market like Los Angeles and the expectation to go win now. At 26 years old, he still has a lot of football left in him, and if the Lions can use some of the draft capital that came to Detroit on the same flight as Goff to improve their roster, Goff could wind up in a great spot.
Having a healthy reminder of how a former love interest ditched you for greener pastures can't hurt, either.
A final interesting point to consider going forward is how these moves reflect on the Rams over the course of the next 3-5 years. Coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead have proven they know how to build a winning team, but they've also shown they're completely unafraid of alienating even their most valuable players when they've decided it's time to move on. Of course, that doesn't include all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who won't meet his own Rams reckoning until well after his current deal expires.
But when it comes to attracting free-agent talent, it's fair to wonder if these types of moves -- not quite cutthroat, but certainly cold-blooded business decisions -- will impact how prospective additions view the Rams as an organization. Winning, above all, matters most. But loyalty -- or a brazen lack thereof -- can also play a part.