Chargers’ Melvin Gordon Threatens Holdout; Trade Demand

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has informed the team that unless he receives a new contract, he will not report to training camp and he will demand a trade, agent Fletcher Smith tells’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Gordon has been pushing for a new deal, but this is a previously unforeseen development for the Los Angeles star. 

Gordon, one of the league’s premier running backs, has already built up quite the odometer at the age of 26. With more than 1,000 carries on his resume, the former first-round pick is looking to cash in as he enters his contract year. For now, Gordon is slated to count for a $5.6MM cap figure before (potentially) reaching free agency after the 2019 season.

The Chargers, in theory, hold the leverage. After ’19 – Gordon’s fifth-year option season – the Bolts can assign the franchise tag to Gordon for the 2020 season, once more for 2021, and theoretically do it for a third time in 2022, though the rate for a third tag would be a cap killer. With his threat of a holdout and possible trade demand, Gordon might be able to even things out.

For Gordon, a new deal would mean a significant pay bump, as well as fiscal certainty. The running back position is especially dangerous and every player in the league is eager for guarantees with a new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon.

We examined Gordon’s case for an extension back in March. At the time, we noted that GM Tom Telesco is open to considering an extension for Gordon, but that Telesco did not offer a timetable for getting a deal done.

Gordon does not have eye-popping YPC numbers in his career (he has averaged 4.0 yards per carry over his four professional seasons), but he did manage 5.1 yards per tote in 2018. He is also a major weapon as a receiver, compiling over 400 receiving yards in each of the past three seasons. He has 28 rushing touchdowns and 10 receiving scores in his career, and he was a key part of the Chargers’ return to the postseason last year.

As a result, the Wisconsin product stands to cash in and will surely be paid at the high end of the running back market. Todd Gurley is currently the pacesetter with an average annual value of $14.375MM and $45MM in guarantees, while Le’Veon Bell recently landed a $13.125MM/year pact. The Cardinals’ David Johnson is now working under a $13MM/year deal that includes $32MM in guarantees.

Since 2016, Gordon has been at the top of the RB heap. Over the last three seasons, he has 28 rushing touchdowns (second most in the NFL), ten receiving touchdowns (fourth-most amongst running backs), and 38 touchdowns from scrimmage (second-most in the NFL).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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19 comments on “Chargers’ Melvin Gordon Threatens Holdout; Trade Demand

  1. bigjonliljon

    How does a possible hold out and trade demand even things out?
    How about telling him to show up to work or there will be no pay. Nor will we give you a trade while we have contractual rights over. Remember you signing this??? Isn’t this your signature?? Lmao

    • pawtucket

      I totally agree. Imagine the fallout of a team said “we are holding out from playing and paying you”
      There would be zero chance of that. It can’t happen. So why can it happen the other way?
      I say let him sit and be pissed off. Don’t let these guys get away with holdouts (right Pittsburg?)

        • Steven Juris

          Gordon would love that. He would get his money and the Bolts wouldn’t get a single thing. Except a non-invite from every single other free agent.

    • Matthew Heywood

      Considering teams can and do cut players at anytime teams already do this to players . The only time a player can do this is the short window they are at the top of their game

    • JT19

      Since he’s still basically on his rookie contract, Gordon had very little freedom in that contract. Its not like he’s on his second contract and holding out for a third. Gordon is looking for long term security, which is currently not guaranteed to him in his current deal. If he were to suffer an injury this season, the Chargers could easily let him walk when his value would be at his lowest. If Gordon plays well, the Chargers can just franchise tag him instead of giving him a long term deal.

      • kylegocougs

        Exactly, he had no choice in any of the details of his current contract

  2. ahale224

    I imagine that it could force their hand because of Rivers’ age. They have a window where they can contend right now but he’s a big part of their offense so it would be a big setback for them. Not tons of leverage, but some.

  3. Rich

    Chargers are in a very poor position. They have a QB issue to resolve beyond 2019. It also appears that there is a pending OL issue for 2020. There is cap space for Gordon, he just may not like the team he’s on if he gets much of it.

  4. baseball10

    Gordon doesnt have much left. If he can play without pouting then let him play this year and let him go. If he cant, then maybe some sucker will give up value for him. It sucks for rbs but thats what their situation is right now


    First off, he has no contract next year.
    He blows out his ACL in Week 4, you think he’s getting franchise tagged ??? I’ll answer it for you, NO.

    Melvin has the leverage and rightfully so !!!

  6. Rich

    Other factors – What is the financial shape of the Chargers ownership? Do they have the cash on hand to pay a big signing bonus? There is almost no big stadium revenue coming in this year and next year they are just renters.

  7. Pigskin 101

    There wasn’t that big of a market for bell this off season.Gordon is no Bell. Also he is still under club control for two years. Plus he loves to fumble.

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