Let’s make this plenty clear: There is not a very good chance Melvin Gordon will be running out of the Green Bay Packers backfield anytime soon.
Since ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported Thursday the prolific running back has requested a trade from the Los Angeles Chargers, there has been some clamor online about what it would take to bring the former Wisconsin Badger and ravager of Big Ten defenses back to his home state.
And look, it’s understandable. Gordon has rushed 897 times for 3,628 yards over his four seasons with the Chargers while also making at least 30 catches for no fewer than 192 receiving yards in each one. Injury concerns aside, he would make a powerful and versatile complement for Aaron Rodgers’ passing prowess.
But the price tag is hefty, both in monetary cost and other assets to be given up in order to deal with the Chargers. Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst isn’t opposed to some bold moves, but he’s already made some this offseason.
Sure, the Packers could still afford him with the right moves, but there’s also the matter of the budding talent currently occupying the Packers’ backfield.
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Can Aaron Jones Rise to the Challenge?
The Packers took Aaron Jones as a fifth-rounder in 2017 and deployed him early into his rookie season when injuries to Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams, making his debut at Lambeau Field memorable when he punched in a two-yard, lead-extending touchdown on Thursday Night Football against the Chicago Bears.
Ever since, fans around Green Bay have been wanting to see more from Jones, who in his sophomore season last year averaged 5.5 yards per carry despite playing just 12 games. He finished with 728 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, including catching one from Aaron Rogers.
With first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, who was the offensive coordinator behind Todd Gurley in 2017 when he won NFL Offensive Player of the Year, they might just get to see Jones more prevalent in the offense.
A hamstring, though, kept Jones out of Wednesday’s training camp sessions, which LaFleur downplayed as them being “a little precautious.” Smart given leg injuries have cost Jones eight games in his first two seasons.
But if the hamstring problems linger and Jones is determined to be more of a liability, Gordon’s sudden availability could seriously tempt the Green Bay front office.
Home Sweet Home
Green Bay isn’t quite Kenosha, but Gordon coming back to Wisconsin would likely set off homecoming processions around the Badger State.
Way before joining the Chargers, Gordon was a star-studded, two-sport prospect out of Mary D. Bradford High School, choosing to stay in his home state and play for the Badgers over other Big Ten options such as Michigan and Iowa. (He actually flipped his commitment on the Hawkeyes).
A bona fide danger to Big Ten defenses, Gordon rushed for 4,915 yards and 45 touchdowns in his four-season career in the Badgers backfield and finished second in Heisman Trophy voting behind Marcus Mariota in 2014 before the Chargers drafted him with the No. 15 overall pick.
He also let the Cornhuskers feel his wrath once more on his way out the door, scorching them for an NCAA FBS single-game rushing record of 408 yards and four touchdowns in a lopsided win for the Badgers.
Doubt the folks of Camp Randall Stadium have forgotten that one yet.
How It Could Work
Again, it probably won’t. Rodgers is the signature piece of the Packers, and while adding another elite-caliber player to the arsenal is great, LaFleur is just as likely satisfied with the pieces already in place around his star quarterback.
Should dealing for Gordon become a legitimate interest for the Packers, though? Except Jones to part of the deal. The Chargers were already preparing without Gordon in the mix before the trade news broke this week, but they won’t take nothing in terms of talent. They’ll want present (Jones) and future talent, meaning at least one early-round draft pick.
Beyond that, the Packers still have to negotiate how much exactly to pay Gordon, who is seeking more than the Chargers’ initial offer of $10 million per year.
A deal could be possible, but would it make much sense for the Packers to stretch themselves to compete against other teams that pose better fits for Gordon? Not particularly.