TooAthletic Takes

It has been less than a year since the Pittsburgh Steelers dealt with the drama of Le’Veon Bell’s holdout.  This year, the Los Angeles Chargers are staring down the barrel of their own drama in dealing with their running back Melvin Gordon, who is demanding a new contract or to be traded before the start of the 2019 season.  As one of the game’s top three running backs, should the Charges demand that Gordon honor the final year of his rookie contract, rip up the contract and give him a new deal, trade him or let him hold out of training camp and into the season without doing anything at all?

In 2018 only three running back averaged at least 70 yards rushing and at least 40 yards receiving, they are Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams, Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants, and Melvin Gordon of the Los Angeles Chargers; and only Gordon averaged six yards every time he touched the ball last season.  He has also played 28 games over the last two seasons and only fumbled once; in short, Melvin Gordon is a top-shelf running back in a league where most team believe they should use the cheaper, running back by committee option, which makes the position less costly against the salary cap.

Once the Los Angeles Chargers picked up the fifth-year option or Gordon’s rookie contract, he was locked into receiving $5.6 Million for the 2019 season without a new deal being reached.  It is difficult to image that a team as notoriously frugal as the Los Angeles Chargers are going to give into the “gun to their head” demands of Melvin Gordon or his agent Damarius Bilbo.  It is Gordon’s agent who is telling the media there’s a “strong possibility” Gordon could skip training camp and would be willing to miss regular season games without receiving a new “market-value” contract.

The toughest part of Melvin Gordon making this demand now is watching what the Rams are dealing with regarding the health of Todd Gurley so shortly after signing a four-year, $60 Million deal last year.  NFL teams have done their best to devalue running backs because of the high injury risk and short shelf life of the average player at the position.  Is Gordon worthy of playing under the same type of contract that the New York Jets signed Le’Veon Bell for as a free agent (four-year, $52 Million)?  Yes, he is; with that said, the Los Angeles Chargers are playing under the current rules of the collective bargaining agreement by exercising the fifth-year option on Melvin Gordon’s contract.  In turn, Gordon can, if he chooses to, holdout as long as he wants, ignoring the contract he has, and wait until next year.

Right now, the teams are playing chicken, and I would not bet on the Chargers blinking first; nor do I think they should. Melvin Gordon should honor his contract and play out the season.  Sadly, has proven with Le’Veon Bell, even if he doesn’t, at least one team will try to sign Gordon next year; however, just like Bell proved, the money Gordon loses this year is money he will never earn back.  So the ball is in Melvin Gordon’s hands; and I think he should try and sign a new deal but be ready to play the 2019 season under his current deal.  Stay tuned fantasy football fans, this drama is likely to last into the fantasy draft season.


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