Pro Bowl running back Melvin Gordon’s agent Fletcher Smith informed the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday that he wanted a new contract or a new team. On Saturday, Gordon himself spoke at SportsCon, a three-day sports convention in Dallas, about hopes for contract negotiations.
“I want to end up with the Chargers,” Gordon said on Saturday. “That’s my home. I’m not going to sit here and be like, ‘Man, I don’t want to go back to the Chargers, dah, dah, dah.’ Like that’s the team that blessed me with an opportunity. They started my life. They changed my life. Out of all 32 teams, that was the team that called me. I can’t forget them for that. But it’s an opportunity right now where I know I need to take advantage of it. You know, I want to get paid. That’s just kind of what it is. Hopefully I end up a Charger. That’s the goal.”
Gordon is in a tough position, even after learning from Le’Veon Bell’s holdout a year ago. He wants to maintain a relationship with the Chargers, especially after seeing Bell’s Pittsburgh Steelers teammates revolt against him.
Gordon is entering the final year of his contract with the Chargers, although they will still have the ability to use the franchise tag, which angered Bell in the past. Given his injury history, Gordon wants to make sure his payday is locked in before another injury could mar his value, a sentiment he’s publicly shared before.
"You [saw] what happened when (Ezekiel Elliott) was out. It was a completely different team," Gordon said. "You could replace average backs, yeah, and just plug them in. But you can't just replace a great back. And people think you can do that. And it's just, you can't. It'll be a difference. It'll be a difference. We do so much for people to even try to devalue us. We block, we got to run the ball, we got to pick up protections, we catch the ball, we have to do what receivers do, we have to do our thing, we have so much that goes through us.
Whether he will keep the fans on his side is another question. Pittsburghers were not thrilled with Bell, although he seems content with his $27 million guaranteed. Gordon understands that football is a business and hopes everyone else will see it the same way.
“I don’t want my fans or my teammates to ever feel like I don’t want to be with them,” Gordon said, via NBC Sports. “I’ve bled with those guys. We had a lot of downs and now that we’re up. I definitely want to be a part of the team and part of the squad. I love my teammates, and I love our fans. My fans know it. I show them so much love, on any social media platform I’m on. It doesn’t have anything to do with me just wanting to leave because I want to leave. But at the end of the day, it’s a business, so I’ve got to do what’s best for me and my family.”
Will Melvin Gordon’s holdout work?
One key difference between the Bell and Gordon holdouts are that the Chargers can actually fine Gordon for missing training camp since he’s still under contract. Bell never signed his franchise tender, so he was never under any obligation to sign up.
The Chargers also have a cheap and effective in-house option if Gordon misses time. While James Conner looked like an obvious replacement now, he only had 32 touches before becoming a Pro Bowl back.
Instead, L.A. has Austin Ekeler, who actually out-performed Gordon on a per-touch basis last year. The former undrafted free agent is also only due $645,000 this season before becoming a restricted free agent.
Gordon is already the 11th-highest paid running back at $5.6 million per season, and he may have trouble finding a team willing to give him an eight-figure salary. The combination of crosstown star Todd Gurley’s ineffectiveness coming off a mega-extension and the proliferation of cheap running backs only exacerbates the devaluation of running backs.
But for the Chargers’ part, they’d certainly like Gordon back. Despite missing seven games, he and Julio Jones are the only players to surpass 1,300 yards from scrimmage each of the last three seasons. The Chargers have the eighth-best Super Bowl odds heading into next season, and Gordon would be a massive part of that.
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