Critics and fans alike all agree that the Chargers have a real shot at making a serious super bowl run this year. One thing that could hamper that is losing your star running back. Gordon and other running back’s around the league seem to have a certain confidence and new found leverage on making demands with “or else” type of comments. So for all of you who rushed out to buy the new #25 jersey Gordon was supposed to dawn this year it must feel like wasted money. Last year Le’veon Bell made contract demands and followed up his threat with sitting out the entire season then signing a huge deal with the Jets. Ultimately this lead to the Steelers not being able to get anything for him, let alone even being able to use him during his last season. Bell set the bar for how far a player is willing to take it by proving that not all players are bluffing when it comes to sitting out. However it’s not just Gordon trying to ride these coat tails, it seems to be a league wide epidemic with Michael Thomas in New Orleans and Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas joining Gordon on the holdout front. Gordon is on the last year of his contract and due to make 5.6 million this season. He is essentially trying to hold the team hostage by threatening their chance at a super bowl run. For the record I like Melvin Gordon and I’m all for the team resigning him. I believe we have yet to see the best of Melvin Gordon as he has played behind average – awful offensive line since he has been with the Chargers. Yet this team is stacked with young talent that will need to be locked up, so resigning him should be at a fair price in between what Melvin wants and what the team wants.
Scenario one is to simply pay Gordon what he wants. Apparently the number that is on the table for Gordon left by the team is between 10 and 11 million which not only seems like an awfully fair amount to most fans but is also a substantial raise from his current base salary. The problem is Gordon is refusing that deal and want’s around 13 in a half million which would tie him for third highest paid running back, tied with Arizona’s David Johnson. I personally rank Gordon as the 6th best back in the league so wanting to be paid as the 3rd best is a bit of a stretch. However in this scenario the team opts to pay him. This typically wouldn’t be much of a problem however this roster is utterly stacked with young talent and unfortunately expiring contracts. If the team gives into Gordon’s demand’s they may have trouble trying to resign all the players they may want to retain. Those other players on the last year of their respective contracts are: Phillip Rivers, Austin Ekeler, Hunter Henry, Mike Pouncey, Trevor Williams, Michael Davis, Derek Watt, and Damion Square. Now some of the players are more obvious priority than others and some may have options that can be picked up helping the negotiating a bit easier. There are also many others that will have expiring contracts however they are not key role players. So now that Gordon has been given the money he wants in this scenario the question becomes, which of these players are you willing to sacrifice. It could possibly be multiple of them if you also consider the free agents the year after which includes Joey Bosa who will likely require 100 million, Keenan Allen , Desmond King, Denzel Perryman, and Melvin Ingram . Keep in mind Gordon was statistically a top 4 running back before he injured his knee leading to him missing four games and being hampered by playing through injury in the last two games. So with six games either missed or playing through injury Melvin amounted a total of 885 rushing yards with 10 touchdowns and a total of 27 plays where he gained more than ten yards at one time. Not to mention his 50 receptions equaling 490 receiving yards and 4 receiving touch downs. Not bad considering 4 missed games and two where he played through a knee sprain.
Scenario 2 is that the contract stalemate drags on into the season and the front office much like the majority of fans declare, they are just as effective without him, leaving Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson to carry the load. While both are great and effective in their own right I don’t see either of them being able to carry the load as most of the other backs success stems from being change of pace backs. While both backs had their moments of greatness the team struggled to run the ball consistently without Gordon. As a team they averaged around 3.4 yards a carry compared to in the high fours with him. While Ekelers yards a carry average are impressive at 5.2 that is not indicative to being a workhorse. So in this scenario the team caves after struggling to run the ball after the first few weeks making the offense much less balanced. Seeing as how stubborn and cheap the Spanos family has proven to be, I don’t see this happening. The Spanos family would rather struggle all year than cave in on giving extra money.
This is the exact opposite of scenario 2 as too which party caves first. I can see Gordon willing to cave regardless of how the team is preforming. This could be to a bit of guilt that his team is struggling and or envy that he is missing out on ineviadable success. Gordon strikes me as a type of guy who is deep routed in team moral and wouldn’t want his teammates to feel he is letting them down either way.
In this scenario three, and what could be a real possibility, is that both parties stand firm in their unwillingness to budge. The front office would stand firm on what they are willing to pay regardless of how the team is operating along with Melvin Gordon willing to go to the extreme much like Bell did last year with Pittsburg. Once it gets to the point where this scenario seems clear the team must be hasty. They should go out and sign a back like Jay Ajayi who is still on the market and add him to the mix of Ekeler and Jackson. Ajayi is a workhorse back more so than the other backs on the roster. Yet much like Gordon he has had a string of injuries and bad luck. Usually a back like him would sign for cheap on a one year deal this far along in the off season. While an injury cut his season extra short he has never had less than four yards an average per carry. All this is assuming Newsome or Jackson don’t just hit another level all together as both are entering the sophomore year of their pro career. I could see Jackson being the more likely of the two having a breakout year as he was the workhorse at North Western University.
My ideal solution:
If there ever was a perfect happy medium for a situation like this I would say it would have to be around the figure the team has left on the table. Yet to meet him half way I would suggest the other two million be offered up but in the form of incentives. If you play all 16 games this year you get “X” amount of bonus along with if you hit “X” amount of yards and or touchdowns you get this. If the player doesn’t want such a deal then I may be concerned that the player is secretly worried about his own health. If he does then he is willing to not only take the pay raise but willing to fight for the extra he feels he deserves. Ultimately only time will tell how this situation plays out. I just hope he doesn’t believe he can pull what Bell did, as i feel he will find out that once he hits free agency other teams will have a very similar offer thus making it a wasted year for nothing.