According to ESPN, Chargers running back Melvin Gordon does not plan to report to training camp for the Los Angeles Chargers without getting a new contract. Gordon, who is entering the last year of his rookie contract, has informed the team that he would like to be traded if a new deal can’t be worked out.
Gordon is set to be paid $5.6 million this year, and is coming off his second all-pro season. Last year, he averaged 5.1 yards per carry, caught the ball 50 times for 490 yards, and scored 14 total touchdowns in 12 games. He’s exactly the sort of running back that’s suited for today’s version of football, and was one of the primary engines driving the Chargers’ high-powered offense.
A 26-year-old player coming off a great season and heading into the last year of his current contract is well-suited for a holdout, but these things are always dicey when it comes to running backs. Gordon is now on the same path that Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson recently found themselves walking. The results of those three holdouts are a mixed bag: Johnson got himself $31 million guaranteed after a relatively painless standoff, Gurley got a contract with $45 million and reset the market for running backs, and Bell withered through an entire season in exile before making his escape to the Jets.
The Steelers got along just fine after slotting James Conner into Bell’s starting position, and Johnson wasn’t able to do anything to resuscitate the Cardinals’ dead and depressing offense last season. Neither of those developments are great news for Gordon.
Ironically, the most foreboding of the recent holdout results, as far as Gordon is concerned, might be Gurley’s contract. Gurley got his money because he was seen as the consensus best running back in the league, and although he appeared worth every cent during the regular season, his disappearance during the Rams’ playoff run was concerning. That disappearance was possibly due to a mysterious knee injury, which apparently has an “arthritic component.”
It’s entirely possible that Gurley’s knee problem will only get worse from here, and the Rams may feel some buyer’s remorse. That possibility, combined with the fact that good teams have continued to be successful without having any star running backs on the roster, is certainly something that will be on the Chargers’ mind while deciding if it’s worth it to pay Gordon and end his holdout. Wish Gordon luck, because he’s probably going to need it.