Tom Telesco hasn’t made a trade of just draft picks since moving up for Melvin Gordon in 2015, and the LA Chargers GM and running back are potentially looking to keep that union intact for 2020 and beyond. Gordon, who held out at the onset of the 2019 season while looking for a new deal that never came, is set to be a free agent in March. But he told Mike Florio on PFT Live this week that he’s still hoping to be a Chargers back for the long-term.
And he wants a new deal soon.
“Hopefully, I’m here,” Gordon said. “Hopefully, I don’t have to wait til March to know where I’m gonna be playing.”
While that’s what Gordon hopes will happen, he sounded pretty uncertain about what the Chargers will do based on conversations with General Manager Tom Telesco.
“When it comes to business, you have to take your emotions out of it,” Gordon said. “It’s not about if you deserve to be here or not. I’ve talked to Tom plenty of times, he tells me ‘you deserve to get paid’ but sometimes it just might not be the right situation.”
Without Gordon, the team turned to Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson to open the season. While Ekeler was and is a dynamic receiver, gaining 993 yards on 92 receptions, neither player may be seen as the number one back that Gordon has been viewed as since coming out of Wisconsin.
Gordon rushed 162 times for 612 yards and eight touchdowns over 12 games last season. In his previous three seasons, he gained 997, 1,105, and 885 yards respectively with a career-best 5.1 yards per carry in 2018.
However, Gordon has averaged under four yards per carry in each of his four seasons besides 2018. Since 2016, Gordon has scored 36 touchdowns, fourth-most in the NFL behind Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Derrick Henry. But Henry played in 62 games over that time, Gurley played in 60, and Elliott played in 56. Gordon played in just 53 games but was just two touchdowns behind Henry, four behind Elliott, and 12 behind Gurley.
Gordon ranked 33rd in DVOA last season among running backs. Ekeler ranked 35th, but was arguably the most valuable receiver out of the backfield.
A contract value for Gordon will be hard to predict and he’ll set an interesting precedent for being a back who had a good pedigree coming out of college and has been consistently productive as a scorer while also not being that dynamic overall. Mark Ingram signed a three-year, $15 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens last year. Jerick McKinnon signed a four-year, $30 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers in 2017.
Would the Chargers be willing to give Gordon a three-year, $25 million deal? Would he be willing to accept it?
In either case, it sounds like Gordon wants something to happen between him and LA. And soon.