Melvin Gordon will reportedly ask for a trade if he doesn’t get a new contract, and these five teams could line up with interest.
Scheduled to make $5.6 million in the final year of his rookie contract, Melvin Gordon and the Los Angeles Chargers have been discussing a new contract.
But now, with training camp on the horizon, Gordon has reportedly told the team he won’t report to camp and will demand a trade if he doesn’t have a new deal.
Gordon could very sit out into the regular season, and sacrifice $330,000 per week for as long as he goes.
He could follow the template set by Le’Veon Bell last year, when he chose not to play on the franchise tag, sat out the entire season and still got a nice contract from the New York Jets in free agency this offseason.
Gordon missed four games last season, and he has missed at least two games in three of his first four seasons. But he is second in the league in touches over the last four seasons (behind Todd Gurley), with 38 total touchdowns (28 rushing) and 5,205 scrimmage yards over that span.
Gordon averaged a career-best 5.1 yards per carry last season, and he was top-10 in the league in broken tackles (26).
He was also top tier in some advanced metrics as a runner, but below par in some deeper metrics as a pass catcher. In a broad sense, he’s a notch below the elite tier of NFL running backs. Backup Austin Ekeler offered comparable production last year (5.2 yards per carry, 7.6 yards per target.
So the Chargers may simply see Gordon as a replaceable commodity, as he edges into the back end of his peak usefulness. His injury history also has to be a factor.
The Chargers could hold their line with Gordon, while trying to get a deal done over the next couple weeks, then fine him for missed training camp practices if he doesn’t report and see where it goes from there.
It seems more likely Gordon will just sit out rather than formally demand a trade, and the Chargers would have no compelling reason to initiate talks with other teams. But if he’s theoretically available, these five teams could make a call on the two-time Pro Bowler.
5. New England Patriots
In these kind of situations, the Patriots can’t be ruled out. Yes they are deep at running back, with Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead and now rookie Damien Harris in place.
But Burkhead has not been a picture of durability, while Michel has a history of knee issues going back to college and had surgery this offseason. Bill Belichick could see an opportunity to add talent to the mix.
Gordon clearly wants a long-term deal, but the Patriots don’t seem likely to trade for him and immediately give him one. Playing out the final year of his deal isn’t on his agenda right now, and if he’d be forced to do so he may as well do it with the Chargers and then hit free agency next March.
Any time the Patriots call with interest in a player, that team has to wonder what they’re not seeing or what they’re doing wrong with that player.
The Chargers can genuinely say they’ve gotten a lot out of Gordon though, with an offensive system has helped them survive without him and raise his level. Maybe a deal that winds up being beneficial for both sides can be done.