Melvin Gordon has reportedly made his demands to the Chargers clear – he’s seeking around $10 million a season, or a trade. Unfortunately, he’s an NFL running back, meaning the laws of supply and demand are not in his favor.
The Chargers have taken their usual hard line with contracts and, for now, also don’t plan to give in to Gordon’s request to be moved. They can do this because a) they know they have a ton of leverage and b) it’s difficult to deal him to another team for value in August.
Barring a preseason injury to a notable feature back, there are only two non-LA destinations that make sense for both Gordon and that other team.
Let’s play the elimination game to take it all the way down from 31, shall we?
NFL PREDICTIONS 2019:
Chiefs clear Chargers again, Raiders inch up in AFC West
They are in the same division (3)
The Chargers won’t be helping anyone in the AFC West, but let’s quickly do this. The Chiefs love Damien Williams, the Raiders drafted Josh Jacobs in the first round and the Broncos seem thrilled about their Year 2 committee of Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman.
They already have a better lead back (15)
You should concur this takes out the Cowboys, Giants, Lions, Vikings, Panthers, Saints, Cardinals, Rams, Jets, Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers, Jaguars and Titans.
They’re good, too, actually (4)
The Bears are ready to load up rookie David Montgomery. The Packers are looking strong with Aaron Jones. The Falcons already invested big in Devonta Freeman, who has a few more years left on his contract. The Dolphins are fine with Kenyan Drake on a rebuilding team.
They’re committed to committees (3)
The 49ers and Seahawks each have multiple good options to split the work. Same goes for the Patriots.
They don’t need more complications (2)
The Bills invested in Frank Gore, T.J. Yeldon and Devin Singletary behind LeSean McCoy. The Redskins have trust in Adrian Peterson again should Derrius Guice not be healthy. Neither team is positioned to go luxury with Gordon.
They didn’t need Le’Veon Bell, either (2)
The Colts and Eagles are cut from the same cloth offensively with Frank Reich and Doug Pederson. They also don’t need a forced, pricey upgrade.
Marlon Mack is a strong lead for Indianapolis, backed by an excellent receiver in Nyheim Hines. Philadelphia already traded for Jordan Howard, drafted Miles Sanders and re-signed Darren Sproles to remix a crowd with Corey Clemant and others.
The Colts continue to be well under the salary cap but GM Chris Ballard has had many opportunities to splurge on a back and wisely hasn’t done so because his offensive line creates a productive plug and play situation. The Eagles have invested plenty elsewhere.
These are two of the most proficient passing teams in the NFL that have more than enough “to establish the run.”
So who’s left?
Texans. Houston does have a problem at running back with an aging Lamar Miller and the always-injured D’Onta Foreman. After the AFC South rival Colts, the Texans have the second-most cap space in the league with which to possibly get a pleasing deal done for Gordon. He will improve their chances to return to the playoffs and complement the downfield passing of Deshaun Watson, Deandre Hopkins and Will Fuller.
The Texans should at least make a phone call to the Chargers. They relied too much on Watson as a source of rushing production last season and showed little interest in adding a viable option in the offseason.
Buccaneers. The Bucs have the second-tightest cap situation in the NFL at only $3 million. But there’s no doubt that Gordon would clean up a shaky situation with Peyton Barber and Ronald Jones, trying to redeem himself with the new coaching staff after a dismal rookie season. And under Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay could use a combination of reliable power runner and solid receiver to both better set up deep shots and provide a short outlet for Jameis Winston.
With only two true suitors and one of them handcuffed financially, it may not be the Chargers’ choice to pursue a trade for Gordon. At this late stage, Gordon also has to realize his best path to get paid more reasonably in line with the running back market is to stay and play well for the team built to get the most out of his services – the Chargers.