While last night brought reports that progress is being made in Ezekiel Elliott’s holdout with the Cowboys, Melvin Gordon’s standoff with the Chargers produced much more grim news. According to Chargers GM Tom Telesco, it’s looking increasingly likely that Gordon has played his last game with the team.
Telesco told reporters yesterday that the team will be ceasing contract talks with Gordon until the conclusion of the upcoming season, which means that he won’t be getting the big extension he was holding out for. Gordon now has a few options: He can end his holdout and play out the last year of his rookie contract with the Chargers, or he can continue to sit out during the regular season while hoping the Chargers can find a team to trade him to. If that doesn’t happen by the Week 8 trade deadline, then he’ll again have to decide if he wants to come back and play the rest of the season or sit out an entire year like Le’Veon Bell did.
Aside from being traded, none of those options are very appealing. Gordon must have figured that this was where his holdout was eventually going to lead, though, given how little leverage running backs have these days when trying to negotiate a contract extension. Until a team shows that not having their star running back on the field is a problem they can’t overcome, players in Gordon’s position are going to continue to be met with hardball negotiating.
That reality doesn’t make this any less lame, of course. Gordon is one of the most exciting running backs in the league, and Chargers games will be poorer and less exciting without his presence. It would be nice if the NFL weren’t structured in such a way that each new season comes with the extreme likelihood that at least one beloved star player will be squeezed off the field by his own organization.