By now, the whole football world is aware Melvin Gordon and his agent aren’t happy. It’s been well documented by the media this week that he is prepared to hold out “as long as he has to” and if the Chargers aren’t willing to give him the contract he wants, he’s asking to be traded.
According to the report, he’s also asking to be paid amongst the top running backs in the league. This directly implies he’s demanding a 13-15 million dollar annual salary.
Let’s look at the 3 current contracts that lead the running back market and compare where they were in their career to Melvin Gordon’s current state.
3 years, 39 million dollars (13 million per) with $24,682,500 guaranteed, via Spotrac.com.
The Arizona Cardinals decided after Johnson dislocated his wrist in week 1 of 2017 this wouldn’t be an injury to hinder him throughout his career. Ironically, thanks to his injury, the thinking was most likely that he didn’t have much tread on his tires, only about 550 career touches at the time. They also had to have a pretty good idea they were going to field a starting quarterback on a rookie contract the following season.
Also, Johnson’s last season before the injury included 2,112 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns in his 2nd professional season.
4 years, 57.5 million dollars (14.375 million per) with $45,000,000 guaranteed via Spotrac.com.
Following a sophomore slump under Jeff Fischer, Gurley brutally silenced any critics with a 2017 campaign where he produced 2,093 yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns. He received this contract at 23 years old. He was also sharing the backfield with Jared Goff, who at the time still had 2 seasons left on his rookie contract.
4 years, 52.5 million dollars (13.125 million per) with $27,000,000 guaranteed via Spotrac.com.
We all know about Le’Veon’s well documented hold out, where he turned down a “larger” extension from Pittsburgh which was 5 years, 70 million yet only 10 million of that was guaranteed. Bell was coming off a season totalling 1,946 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns. Other than sustaining a torn MCL in 2015, his last 3 seasons prior to his hold out he’s averaged more than 2,000 total yards from scrimmage and over 10 touchdowns in 2014, 2016 and 2017.
Not surprisingly, Bell ends up getting his contract with a team who’s quarterback is on their rookie contract through the 2021 season.
Getting back to Gordon, his 2018 season was certainly his best, on tape and from an efficiency standpoint. He’s lightyears past his mess of a rookie campaign, since cutting down on the fumbles, finding the end zone, and both his improved vision and decision making in the open field. All of this is a testament to his incredible work ethic.
Still, his best season from a totals standpoint (1581 scrimmage yards & 12 touchdowns) is 400 yards shy of what Bell has proven to average through most of his Pittsburgh career.
With Bell signing this offseason, only Johnson and Gurley have begun to have their top-tier contracts play out. Johnson needs to improve his production from last season and Gurley will need to answer health concerns following a knee injury that held him out for the majority of the last two games during the Rams Super Bowl run. This coming from two players who couldn’t possibly have done more to earn their second contract in the season prior.
All 3 of these players were at least top 3 at their position and could make an argument as to why they’re the best in the world at the time of their extension. Gordon could be ranked anywhere from top 5 to top 10 and jobs are being put on the line for any front office that pays him top dollar on the open market, let alone trading draft picks in the process.