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Los Angeles Rams release RB Todd Gurley, LB Clay Matthews

Former Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (R) had 58 rushing touchdowns with the team, tied for the most in franchise history. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI
Former Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (R) had 58 rushing touchdowns with the team, tied for the most in franchise history. File Photo by Jon SooHoo/UPI | License Photo

March 19 (UPI) -- The Los Angeles Rams released star running back Todd Gurley and veteran linebacker Clay Matthews to free up additional salary-cap space, the team announced Thursday.

The Rams made Gurley, the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, the highest-paid tailback in league history before the 2018 season after giving him a four-year, $57.5 million extension that included $45 million in guarantees, according to Spotrac. At the time of the extension, the former University of Georgia running back had two seasons left on his rookie deal.

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Los Angeles needed to make a decision on whether to keep Gurley before an additional $10.5 million in his contract became fully guaranteed at 4 p.m. EST Thursday. According to NFL Media, the Rams shopped him around the league, but no trade materialized.

League sources told ESPN that the Rams released Gurley with a post-June 1 designation, meaning the franchise will spread the running back's total dead-money hit of $20.15 million over two seasons. In return, Los Angeles will see about $5.5 million in cap savings in 2020.

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The Rams still owe Gurley a $7.55 million roster bonus for this season. According to NFL Media, a portion of the roster bonus ($2.5 million) is subject to offsets if he signs with another team.

Gurley, who turns 26 in August, was selected with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2015 draft. Since entering the league, he has been one of the franchise's top offensive weapons.

In 73 career games (72 starts) with the Rams, Gurley notched 5,404 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns on 1,265 carries. His 58 rushing scores were tied with Marshall Faulk for the most in team history.

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Last season, Gurley's usage was down from 2018 due to knee issues. He rushed for a career-worst 857 yards in 15 regular-season games.

Matthews, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, joined the Rams last season after spending 10 seasons with the Green Bay Packers. He was scheduled to earn a $2 million roster bonus Thursday if he remained on the team. Los Angeles will save $3.75 million in cap space with his release.

Matthews played in 13 games last season and recorded 37 total tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and three passes defensed.

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