As promised, Melvin Gordon has not reported for the start of training camp. So what would the Chargers do if he did sit out the season?
Out of nowhere a couple weeks ago, reports surfaced that Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon would not report to training camp without a contract extension. The Chargers are not budging in contract talks, and as promised Gordon did not report for the start of training camp on Wednesday.
Since he is under contract, unlike Le’Veon Bell last year, the Chargers can fine Gordon $40,000 for each day of camp he misses. The idea of a trade demand surfaced in concert with the holdout threat, but the Chargers don’t have to entertain that at all until teams call with interest.
Gordon would lose around $330,000 per week for each game he sits out, if he chooses to start on the path paved by Bell last year. Couple with the daily fine for missing camp, if the Chargers want to do that, and the lost money piles up quickly.
Sitting out the entire season is unlikely, since his contract would simply toll to 2020. But what would the Chargers do if Gordon sat out the 2019 season?
For what it’s worth, the Chargers went 4-0 in the games Gordon missed last season. Austin Ekeler was a little better than Gordon by a few measures, and he comes a lot cheaper ($645,000 salary for 2019, also in the final year of his contract) than Gordon’s $5.6 million this year and what he’s looking to get over the next few years toward the top of the running back market.
Gordon-2018: 5.1 yards per carry, 9.8 yards per catch, 7.4 yards per target. 6.1 yards per touch
Ekeler-2018: 5.2 yards per carry, 10.4 yards, 7.6 yards per target, 6.6 yards per touch
Justin Jackson made one start as a rookie last year, when Gordon and Ekeler were both out, had 85 total yards on 19 touches (16 carries for 58 yards and a touchdown). During a productive college career at Northwestern, as he sits third on the all-time Big Ten rushing list, he showed he could handle a big workload.
Detrez Newsome only had 13 touches as an undrafted rookie in 2018, but he did average 4.5 yards per carry on 11 carries. He is hardly a budding star, but he’s a name to know down the depth chart for the Chargers if Gordon were to sit out a meaningful chunk of regular season games.
The Chargers have all the leverage in the situation with Gordon, to whatever level it reaches. All signs point to him having to relent at some point, but the team should be able to withstand his absence for however long it goes.