The start of NFL training camp is just around the bend, and let’s face it, every year there seems to be a player or two unhappy with his contract or circumstances.
You know the deal: the player moans about it and threatens to hold out if something isn’t done about it.
Well, it looks as if Melvin Gordon of the Los Angeles Chargers is this year’s disgruntled one.
Gordon has said many times he believes he’s the best running back in the NFL. And now he wants the Chargers to stroke his ego with a richer deal. He let the world know about it earlier this week when he spoke to ESPN.
“They’re (his teammates) all behind me. They all got my back,” said Gordon. “They all told me, ‘You know what – we don’t really speak on contracts – but you just go and do what’s best for your family.’ And I’m glad I got that support from them.”
The timing is right for Gordon – and his family – to take this stance. He’s in the final year of his rookie contract that will pay him $5.6 million. He’s already a two-time Pro Bowler who gained 5.1 yards per carry, had 14 total touchdowns and averaged 114.6 yards from scrimmage in 2018.
In Gordon’s mind, that adds up three times more than what he’s due to receive. He was nice enough show up for the team’s mandatory minicamp, but now he’s essentially told the Chargers if they don’t ante up it will be a long time before they see him again. Camp opens next Wednesday.
We have Le’Veon Bell to thank for all of this. The former Pittsburgh Steelers halfback boycotted the 2018 season in a contract dispute and ended up diving into a pile of cash with the New York Jets. Gordon has a role model.
It’s not hard to figure out what kind of money Gordon wants. Just take a look at Bell’s contract (four years, $52.5 million), Todd Gurley’s deal with the Los Angeles Rams (four years, $60 million) or David Johnson’s with the Arizona Cardinals (three years, $39 million).
“A lot of running backs have reached out to me just saying go out and get what you deserve,” Gordon said. “A lot. A lot of starters. A lot, a lot of backs. … I’m prepared to do what I got to do, but like I said, I hope it doesn’t come to that.”
As you might imagine, Gordon’s agents are flitting around the nation telling various media outlets how upset the player is, how he feels the way he’s being treated is disrespectful. They’ve said nothing to make the Chargers believe Gordon isn’t serious about holding out.
“If Melvin is not paid fairly, he will want to be traded,” agent Damarius Bilbo told NFL Network.
While at minicamp, Gordon reiterated he wanted a new deal by the start of training camp so he wouldn’t be preoccupied with it.
“I don’t want to miss football. I don’t have time for any of that going back and forth. I would rather just get it done and out of the way,” said Gordon.
Is Gordon the best halfback in the NFL? Doubtful. Would you take him over Gurley or Shaquon Barkley, over Bell or Ezekiel Elliott? We didn’t think so.
The Chargers know Gordon, who is 26, tends to get injured a lot. He played in only 12 games last season and gained 885 yards with 50 receptions. In his first four seasons, he’s had multiple knee injuries and a cranky hip. And any deal Gordon gets will have to be front-loaded with guaranteed money that will sting their cap for years. He’s been a nice player, but nostalgia is not the way the NFL does business.
Gordon knows it’s going to be hard for the Chargers to replace him and he figures he has nothing to lose by applying a lot of pressure. What are the Chargers options if they don’t have Gordon? Austin Ekeler gained 554 yards and Justin Jackson 206 in 2018.
“I know my value and what I bring to the team,” Gordon told The Athletic. “I’m sticking with that. I can’t help what Todd is paid. Todd doesn’t care what anybody says right now, him or David Johnson. They can say what they want to say; they signed the dotted line. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet, so I have to take the heat for some of the stuff that they’re going through. But I’m not them. Like I said, I know my value.”