With the Ezekiel Elliott signing official, we can now focus our attention on the other Pro Bowl running back who is holding out for more money. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Gordon will make his return to the Chargers’ lineup — anywhere between Weeks 6 and 8 of the 2019 season..
Because Gordon would have play before Week 10 of the NFL season for this year to count as a fifth year of pro experience for the 26-year-old running back. This is important as he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.
“Sources say that Gordon, who missed training camp because of his desire for a new contract, is expected to report this season. But the current plan is to report in the window that spans from Week 6 through Week 8.
Gordon, who will play on the $5.6 million fifth-year option, must report by Week 10 to have this season count and qualify for free agency next year. He will, show up before then, with Gordon not planning to pull a Le’Veon Bell.”
Gordon is due $5.6 million this season in the last year of his rookie contract. He has already been fined $1 million for holding out and missing training camp.
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Melvin Gordon Looking to Avoid Injury Before Free Agency
Even more important for the young running back — he’s looking to stay healthy as nagging injuries have bothered him over recent years. However, the former first-round draft selection hasn’t properly taken the time to sit out games to heal those nagging injuries. He has missed just nine games in four seasons.
“But Gordon, who played through injuries over the last several years but only missed nine games in four seasons, will limit the injury risk in anticipation of free agency. He’ll cut the season in half, roughly, while not cutting it out completely. If he doesn’t get franchise tagged, Gordon will be one of the top free agents in 2020. He had his best year last year, averaging 5.1 yards per rush.”
Melvin Gordon Has Zero Leverage Over Chargers
Unlike the situation with the Dallas Cowboys and Elliott, the Chargers are not desperate to have Gordon back in their lineup. As good as he was last season in averaging 5.1 yards per carry — he ranked eighth in the NFL in yards per carry — the fact that Gordon’s career-high in yards per carry was just 3.9 prior to last season has to present some doubt.
Furthermore, the Chargers’ offense doesn’t revolve around Gordon the way the Cowboys’ offensive unit revolves around Elliott. Los Angeles’ main weapon is none other than Philip Rivers and it can be argued that wideout Keenan Allen’s value is higher to the Chargers than is Gordon.
Although Gordon is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, there is a major divide on how both sides value the running back. Whereas Gordon wants to earn around $13 million per season, which would make him the second-highest-paid back in the NFL after Elliott, the Chargers simply want to pony up only $10 million per season.
It didn’t exactly help matters that there was very little interest in Gordon when the Chargers gave him permission last week to seek a trade elsewhere. The Philadelphia Eagles were reportedly the only team to show interest — and they apparently lowballed the Chargers by offering them an exchange for running back Jordan Howard with a pick.
Here’s the bottom line — Gordon has zero leverage. He will likely have to suck it up, return to the Chargers midway through the season and play and avoid injury so he can hopefully sign that big contract in free agency in 2020.
He just has to hope that the Chargers also don’t franchise tag him — which would essentially hold him hostage for another year in Los Angeles.
This isn’t going to be a happy season for Gordon at all.