Melvin Gordon

Extra Points: Gordon, Chargers, Browns

One of the biggest stories in the league over the past week has been the situation involving Melvin Gordon and the Chargers. Somewhat out of nowhere, we heard that Gordon was threatening a holdout and a trade demand unless he received a new contract from Los Angeles. The 2015 first-round pick is set to play out the final year of his contract under the fifth-year option. Gordon struck a somewhat conciliatory tone recently, saying that he wants to end up back with the Chargers at the end of the day. Sometimes disputes like this can cause locker room issues and other chemistry problems, but Gordon isn’t worried about that here.

In a sit-down interview with Sam Alipour of ESPN, Gordon said of his Chargers teammates, “they’re all behind me. They all got my back.” Gordon continued, saying “they all told me, ‘You know what — we don’t really speak on contracts — but you just go and do what’s best for your family.’ And I’m glad I got that support from them.” Running backs across the league have bonded together as they’ve seen their value get questioned by many in recent years, and Gordon said that he’s heard from a ton of them. “A lot. A lot of starters. A lot, a lot of backs,” have reached out to him “just saying go out and get what you deserve,” he revealed. Gordon will be an interesting case-study, as the Chargers likely don’t want to pay him top of the market money. Backs like Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, and David Johnson have commanded in the area of $15MM annually, and Los Angeles seems hesitant to pay that much. As we’ve broken down, Gordon doesn’t have all that much leverage because he can’t sit out the season like Bell did without his contract tolling.

Here’s more from around the league:

AFC West Notes: Gordon, Broncos, Thornhill

In examining the contract impasse between the Chargers and running back Melvin Gordon, both Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com emphasize one factor that has been largely overlooked in other reports and opinions concerning Gordon’s threat to sit out the entire season: if Gordon makes good on his threat, his contract would toll and he would still be under club control in 2020 at the same salary he would earn in 2019. So Gordon really doesn’t have a ton of leverage here, which is why Fitzgerald believes the 2015 first-round pick will ultimately be on the field come Week 1 regardless of whether he has a new deal in place.

Now for more from the AFC West, starting with additional thoughts on Gordon:

  • Fitzgerald notes that Gordon does not fit neatly into either the top tier of the league’s running backs, who have contracts paying at least $13MM per season, or into the second tier, which tops out at an AAV of $8.25MM. Fitzgerald believes that, if the Chargers want to keep Gordon for the long haul — which is still up in the air at this point — the two sides will come together on a pact that pays Gordon around $10MM per season.
  • It’s roster projection season, and Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post takes a look at the Broncos‘ WR situation. Emmanuel Sanders‘ inability to participate in the Broncos’ offseason program allowed the club to thoroughly its evaluate young pass catchers, who impressed the coaching staff with their intelligence and instincts. O’Halloran notes that Sanders could open training camp on the PUP list, and his health may force Denver to carry six receivers, good news for rookie sixth-rounder Juwann Winfree and UDFA Trinity Benson. O’Halloran believes both players will make the team.
  • In a separate piece, O’Halloran explores UDFA Ahmad Gooden‘s chances of making the Broncos. O’Halloran says Gooden drew interest from multiple teams after the draft but saw Denver as the best fit given its newfound openings at OLB. Gooden was a stand-up DE in college, but he was asked to drop into both man and zone coverage, which is a skill that’s expected of the Broncos’ outside ‘backers. If he can flash some pass rush ability, he will have a good shot.
  • Mike Klis of 9News.com examines the Broncos‘ revamped secondary, which should be a strength for the team this season. However, he notes that safety Su’a Cravens may be a long shot to make the 53-man roster. While Denver’s previous regime saw Cravens as a dime linebacker, new HC Vic Fangio says Cravens will need to make the club as a pure safety, which seems like a dubious proposition given Cravens’ struggles in coverage in 2018, his first season with the Broncos.
  • Brook Pryor of the Kansas City Star takes a shot at projecting the Chiefs‘ 53-man roster. After an impressive spring, Pryor believes UDFA Cody Thompson will fill the club’s last WR spot at least until Tyreek Hill returns from his likely suspension, and she tabs Juan Thornhill as a key piece to the Kansas City secondary. The second-round rookie from UVA looked good in spring practices before injuring his hamstring, and assuming he is ready for training camp and continues to play well, he will be the Chiefs’ starting free safety and Tyrann Mathieu will be able to play closer to the line, which is his preference.

Melvin Gordon Hopes To Stay With Chargers

Extension-eligible for the past 18 months, Melvin Gordon changed his course of action this week in threatening a holdout and a pay-or-trade ultimatum. The fifth-year Chargers running back, however, wants this standoff to end with him signed long-term in Los Angeles.

I want to end up with the Chargers. That’s my home,” Gordon said during an interview in Dallas at SportsCon 2019 (via Charean Williams of Pro Football Talk). “I’m not going to sit here and be like, ‘Man, I don’t want to go back to the Chargers, dah, dah, dah.’ Like that’s the team that blessed me with an opportunity. They started my life. They changed my life. Of all 32 teams, that was the team that called me. I can’t forget them for that.”

The 26-year-old back is set to earn $5.6MM on a fifth-year option this season. While that marks a raise from his $3.4MM 2018 earnings, Gordon has seen fellow 2015 first-rounder Todd Gurley change the market. And David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell followed suit in inking $13MM-AAV-plus deals. Gordon, who agreed with Bell’s 2018 holdout, reaffirmed his threat to miss regular-season games in pursuit of a new contract.

It’s an opportunity right now where I know I need to take advantage of it. You know, I want to get paid,” Gordon said. “That’s just kind of what it is. … I’m prepared to do what I need to do. That’s just what it’s going to be.”

The two-time Pro Bowler has strung together three seasons with at least 12 touchdowns, and his 2018 campaign featured a career-best 5.1 yards per carry. But Gordon has also missed games due to injury in three of his first four seasons and finished his first three with sub-4.0 YPC averages.

The Chargers may force him to prove it this season, though with running backs possessing diminished shelf lives, that would obviously conflict with Gordon’s timetable. Gordon’s 1,079 touches since 2015 are the second-most in football — behind only Gurley’s 1,229. Gordon is also a year older than his Los Angeles ball-carrying counterpart.

My guess is as good as yours right now,” Gordon said on where his extension talks stand. “We’re going to give them some time and see where it heads. We’ve still got some time out before training camp. But hopefully things get figured out.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Gould, Gordon, Cards, Rams

Robbie Gould said this week he and the 49ers have been negotiating a contract for well over a year. Unless the sides can come to terms by Monday’s deadline for franchise-tagged players to sign extensions, he will be tethered to the 49ers at the current kicker tag rate of $5MM. He has requested a trade and been mulling a holdout.

We’ve been negotiating for 17 months and it’s been a complicated situation,” Gould said, via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Josh Schrock. “I’m at the point where my agent is going to handle it. If there’s anything I need to know about, then I’ll make a decision.”

The 36-year-old kicker has hit 72 of 75 field goal tries since joining the 49ers in 2017. The trade request Gould made led many to believe he wanted to return to Chicago, where his family resides. But the 15th-year specialist clarified that seeking a spot closer to his family does not necessarily mean solely seeking a Bears reunion. Though, the dot-connecting between Gould the kicker-starved Bears — for whom he played from 2005-15 — is rather easy.

I never said I want to go back there,” Gould said. “I just said I want to be closer to my family. That doesn’t necessarily mean (the Bears).”

Shifting to some non-kicker news, here is the latest from the West divisions:

  • Melvin Gordon‘s attempt to secure a new contract brought the Chargers into the news this week. But the team is not yet willing to publicly engage with the disgruntled running back. “We don’t publicly discuss contract negotiations,” the team said in a message sent to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Gordon is set to make $5.6MM on the fifth-year option this season; that figure is nearly $4MM less than Ezekiel Elliott would make on his 2020 option. The 26-year-old back has issued a pay-me-or-trade-me ultimatum and threatened a regular-season holdout.
  • Rams strength and conditioning coach Ted Rath was found not guilty on three misdemeanor counts of sexual battery, a Ventura, Calif., jury ruled Friday, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com tweets. This alleged incident occurred in 2018. Rath, 35, is in his second season as a Rams assistant; he was placed on leave earlier this year.
  • Larry Fitzgerald‘s late-career move to the slot led to an uptick in his reception counts, with the Cardinals’ future Hall of Famer eclipsing 100 catches for three straight seasons from 2017-19. Kliff Kingsbury said the soon-to-be 36-year-old receiver has shown an early chemistry with Kyler Murray and will be moved to different places in formations this season, per Bob McManamon of the Arizona Republic. In a 2018 season that saw the Cardinals rank last in points and total yards, Fitzgerald posted a career-low 734 yards.
  • In the same piece, McManamon lists third-year wideout Chad Williams as being on the Cards’ roster bubble. With the team drafting three receivers to join Fitzgerald, Christian Kirk and UFA addition Kevin White, the former Bruce Arians-era third-round pick (20 career catches for 202 yards and one touchdown) may be battling uphill to keep his roster spot.

Latest On Chargers, Melvin Gordon

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has threatened to skip training camp and even potentially ask for a trade if he does not receive a long-term extension from the club. Furthermore, his agent says there is a possibility that he could extend a holdout into the regular season. Apparently, that’s more than just talk. 

Last fall, when Sports Illustrated (Twitter link) spent a day with Gordon and his family, the running back was asked about his take on the Le’Veon Bell situation. Gordon’s father asked his son if he thought Bell would really sit out the entire year and the running back responded: “I would, too.”

Come back and get hurt?,” Gordon asked, rhetorically. “Gave y’all everything he had for about five, six years. Y’all can’t pay the man?

Gordon, meanwhile, has given the Chargers four years of service, including two Pro Bowl seasons. And, last year, he took a major step forward with an average of 5.1 yards per carry.

It’s debatable as to whether Bell’s stance paid off. Bell gave up $14.5MM on the Steelers’ 2018 franchise tag before signing a four-year, $52.5MM contract with $27MM fully guaranteed. It’s not quite the payday he had in mind, but a catastrophic injury would have prevented him from signing anything in that neighborhood.

If Gordon misses games, he’ll sacrifice roughly $330K per week, representing 1/17th of his $5.6MM salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chargers’ Melvin Gordon Could Miss Games

The saga between the Chargers and running back Melvin Gordon could drag on for a while. There’s a “strong possibility” Gordon could sit out into the regular season unless he gets a new market-value deal, agent Damarius Bilbo tells Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). For what it’s worth, Bilbo did soften the threat a bit. 

[RELATED: Chargers’ Melvin Gordon Threatens Holdout; Trade Demand]

But we want to focus on getting something done before training camp,” Bilbo said. “There’s a long way to go to Week 1.”

If Gordon’s holdout extends to the regular season, he’ll lose out on roughly $330K per week, representing 1/17th of his $5.6MM salary. Staying away from the club could reinforce his importance to the Chargers’ offense, though there’s a risk of backup Austin Ekeler shining in his absence. Last year, Ekeler was a revelation for the Chargers as well as points-per-reception fantasy football players – he finished out with 5.2 yards per carry on a limited sample and 39 catches for 404 yards out of the backfield.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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 ESPN.com’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.

Chargers, Melvin Gordon In Preliminary Contract Talks

Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and he indicated that his agent has had preliminary talks with the team about a long-term deal, as Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com writes.

Gordon, who is due a modest $5.61MM this year under his fifth-year option, obviously wants a new, more lucrative contract. While he did not sound like someone who is contemplating a holdout, he did not rule out the possibility either. He said, “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a deal done. But that’s not going to stop me from coming out here and doing what I need to do. We’re going to see. I would like to go out there and have it done. We’re talking right now, and that’s kind of where I’m going to leave it.”

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.

Head coach Anthony Lynn offered the following: “Melvin Gordon is extremely important to us. When he’s out here on the field, he works his tail off. He’s gotten better every year that I’ve been here. I think he’s headed in the right direction. If he just goes out and keeps doing what he’s been doing, that contract stuff will take care of itself.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extension Candidate: Melvin Gordon

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon said at the end of January that he would wait until Le’Veon Bell signed a new contract before engaging in extension talks with the Bolts. He later walked back those comments and said he would be open to negotiating an extension with the Chargers immediately, but regardless, Bell has finally landed his much-ballyhooed deal and Gordon and LA now have another benchmark to consider in their own negotiations.

GM Tom Telesco has said that he is open to considering an extension for Gordon — who is entering the final year of his rookie deal — this offseason, per Jeff Miller of the Los Angeles Times. However, Telesco indicated he didn’t have a timetable for a new deal, and given that there have not been any public reports concerning an extension, it may not happen until the summer at this point.

Gordon’s injury history is a complicating factor, but his talent is undeniable. The 2015 first-round pick 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.

But he did miss four games down the stretch in 2018, and he had December IR trips in 2015 and 2016. He did manage a full 16-game slate in 2017, and Telesco said he does not have “too many concerns” about Gordon’s durability, though that may not be entirely true.

In any event, Gordon 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 Bell just landed a $13.125MM/year pact. The Cardinals’ David Johnson is now working under a $13MM/year deal and stands to earn $32MM in guarantees.

Gordon is due a modest $5.61MM this year under his fifth-year option, and if he does not get the long-term deal he’s looking for, he could force the issue by holding out. But it sounds as though both sides are willing to continue their relationship for the foreseeable future, and as Miller observes, Gordon is a popular figure in the Chargers’ locker room, so team brass will want to be careful about how it handles negotiations with him.

The guess here is that Gordon gets his extension sometime before the start of the regular season and lands a four-year deal worth about $14MM per year and with $35MM or so in guarantees.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Melvin Gordon To Wait On Le’Veon Bell Deal

Two of Melvin Gordon‘s peers reset the stagnant running back market in 2018, but the Chargers back will wait to see what happens with a unique free agent before entering into extension talks with his own team.

By virtue of hitting the open market, Le’Veon Bell may land a deal which could conceivably surpass those of Todd Gurley and David Johnson. Or Bell’s workload and injury history compared to those two may prevent his deal from breaking records.

Either way, the running back market will look different after the soon-to-be ex-Steelers back signs his long-sought-after contract. And Gordon, going into his fifth season, will not commit to a Chargers long-term pact until this happens.

I’m waiting. I’m sitting back waiting, waiting on Bell,” Gordon said during an appearance on NFL Media’s Around The NFL podcast (via the Orange County Register). “I’m glad it’s changing because we (running backs) were getting devalued for a little bit. But me, David Johnson, Todd Gurley, I can go down a whole list, Bell, you name it, ‘Zeke,’ just game-changers, Alvin Kamara, all those guys.”

Entering the 2019 offseason, the running back market is vastly improved from where it rested the previous few years. After Adrian Peterson‘s contract came off the Vikings’ books, LeSean McCoy‘s $8MM-per-year deal led the way, before Devonta Freeman‘s $8.25MM-AAV accord — a lower percentage of the cap when the Falcons back signed, compared to McCoy’s pact — raised it. Gurley pushed that to $14.38MM per year, with Johnson settling in at $13MM.

With no other backs signing for between the new top tier (Gurley and Johnson) and the second tier (topped by McCoy and Freeman’s contracts) since last year, a sizable gulf exists. Averaging a career-high 114.6 yards from scrimmage per game last season, Gordon seemingly would be in line to land a deal in between the Gurley-Freeman gap. Bell may help determine what Gordon’s next deal’s numbers look like, with Ezekiel Elliott surely monitoring the proceedings closely as well.

Like Bell, Gordon’s injury history (December IR trips in each of his first two seasons and four missed games in 2018) may come into play, only the latter likely will not have the luxury of hitting the market. The Chargers have Gordon locked down via team-friendly $5.61MM fifth-year option next season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.