Faced with a challenging salary-cap situation, the Los Angeles Rams have released running back Todd Gurley, the team announced Thursday. The Rams made Gurley, the 2017 NFL Offensive Player of the Year, the highest-paid running back in NFL history before the 2018 season, awarding him a four-year, $60 million extension. At the time of the extension, Gurley had two seasons remaining on his rookie contract. The release is accompanied by a heavy cost.

The Rams’ salary-cap issues were created over the past 20 months. The Rams decided to extend megadeals to Gurley, quarterback Jared Goff, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and receiver Brandin Cooks, who also has been among players discussed in trade talks.

The decision to release Gurley, who turns 26 in August, coincides with a rebranding effort ahead of the 2020 season, and what the team hopes will be a bounce back from a disappointing 9-7 season that left it out of the playoffs following a Super Bowl run in 2018.

Gurley had been the face of the franchise since his selection with the 10th overall pick in 2015, and his 58 rushing touchdowns were tied with Marshall Faulk for most in franchise history. It had grown increasingly apparent by the end of last season, however, that the relationship between the Rams and Gurley had soured.

Gurley’s usage last season was down from 2018 when he rushed for 1,251 yards and scored a league-high 21 touchdowns. Questions about the health of his left knee persist. He was sidelined for the final two games of the 2018 regular season because of his knee, which was surgically repaired when he played at Georgia. He returned in a divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys and, even as he shared carries with C.J. Anderson, rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown. However, following his performance against the Cowboys, Gurley never returned to form.

Overall, in five seasons with the Rams, Gurley rushed for 5,404 yards on 1,265 carries, an average of 4.3 yards per carry and has 70 total touchdowns. He has caught 218 passes for another 2,090 yards. You can expect the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons to express interest in Gurley.