Late last week multiple sports outlets reported that Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon will not show up to camp without a new contract. In addition, if they can not come to a deal, Gordon is demanding a trade. Gordons’ agent, Fletcher Smith, told the media that he and his client are dug in on the matter. Reportedly, there has been no progress in negotiations which spurred them to take this drastic action.
Gordon is in is option year, set to make $5.6 million dollars. Given his production since being drafted in 2015, he has transformed into a top-5 running back in the NFL. Last season, he ranked fifth in yards from scrimmage. Over the last three seasons, he’s only second to Todd Gurley in carries with 1,079 and third in the league in touchdowns (38) and yards from scrimmage (5,205) over the last four seasons. Undoubtedly contributing to their decision making process are the recent long-term extensions given to fellow running back contemporaries Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley (4-yrs, $60 million, with $45 million dollars guaranteed), Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (3-yrs, $39 million with $30 million dollars guaranteed) and Le’veon Bell (4-yrs, $52.5 million with $25 million dollars guaranteed). All three threatened to sit out until they got a new deal and only Bell actually sat out a season.
To holdout now will be the greatest leverage he has to use. The Chargers are coming off a 12-4 season highlighted (and lowlighted) by a trip into the AFC Divisional Round against the eventual Super Bowl champions, New England. The window of opportunity for Philip Rivers and company is now and Gordon is a big piece of the pie in that equation. At 26, this is the best time for Gordon to holdout. His value is at its peak, this is the moment of greatest need for his team with the Chargers ascending to championship contender status and he has proven himself to be a durable, reliable, elite dual-threat running back.
The only reason Bell didn’t succeed in getting paid with the Pittsburgh Steelers is because he waited until after he had been franchised twice. Bell and Gurley got their deals before the team had that control in their hands. The Chargers have the same leverage inasmuch that they can franchise tag Gordon for up to two more seasons at the league average of the top-5 running backs in the league. It’s in the Chargers’ best interest to get a long-term deal done or trade Gordon now as opposed digging in and letting him go (after sitting out the season) and getting nothing in return. Gordon loses all leverage by playing the season and allowing himself to get franchised for two seasons. What team is going to give a long-term contract with a boatload of guaranteed money to a 28-year old running back?
So what do the Chargers do?
The Chargers have a lot of big contracts of core players coming up at the end of 2020 and not a lot of cap space to sign them all. Rivers, Gordon, tight end Hunter Henry, linebacker Jatavis Brown, cornerback Trevor Williams, safety Adrian Phillips and center Mike Pouncey headline the players who will be looking to cash in on their on-field success. By the way, franchise defensive end Joey Bosa will be looking for big bucks at the end of the 2021 season. Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco has some big decisions to make and Gordon is forcing his name to the top of the list.
Without Gordon, the running back depth chart will be Austin Ekeler, second-year pro Justin Jackson, Detrez Newsome and Troymaine Pope. Ekeler has proven his versatility and ability to make plays in space but the group behind him is unproven to say the least. Gordon, obviously is the element that takes this group from good to great. As seen by the recent signings of guys like Bell and Gurley plus the growing influx of backs that are as deadly catching the ball as they are running it; the devalued running back position is making a comeback. If Telesco makes a trade he is hamstrung because no team is going to make a fair offer knowing the position he is in. At best he may be able to acquire a package of draft picks. A first round pick isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
The Oakland Raiders received a first-round pick from the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for wide receiver Amari Cooper. Weeks earlier, they had received two first-round picks, a sixth-round pick and a 2020 second-round pick plus a conditional fifth-round selection for Khalil Mack. Cooper was coming off a down 2017 season and found himself lost in the wide receiver shuffle until newly-hired Raiders coach Jon Gruden shipped him out of town. Mack has established himself as a top-5 if not the best pass rusher in the league before Gruden sent him away. Gordon is closer to the Mack end of the spectrum than the Cooper end. The problem is draft picks are always a crapshoot. A package of picks including a first-rounder or two is all well and good, but it does not result in equal value and it does nothing for the loss of production for a team that is among the favorites to appear in the Super Bowl.
The other side of the coin is to sign Gordon and judging from the deals mentioned above, the terms are going to be in the neighborhood of a three- to f0ur-year deal worth $13- to 16-million dollars per year with two-thirds of that money guaranteed. Can the Chargers afford it? According to Sportrac, Over-The-Cap, ESPN Stats and Info and other sources, the Bolts have just under $11 million dollars in cap space. Still, cap space backdoors are known and utilized by ever GM in the league. Keeping Gordon keeps the Chargers consistent and on course for that long-awaited Super Bowl return. Keeping Gordon keeps the Chargers in place as the biggest threats to Kansas City, who will be heralded as the heir apparent to the Patriots’ franchise based on the trajectory of quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is coming into this, his third season, on the heels of winning the NFL MVP award after his first season as the Chiefs starting QB.
As a fan and as a man who was there at the NFL Draft when Gordon was drafted, I want him to stay a Charger for life. I’ve met the man, had a conversation with him and shook his hand on the very first day he was tapped to be a Charger. He’s a solid guy, very kind, very active in the community and has a sparkling reputation as a teammate. That being said, I believe Gordon will be traded. I cannot blame the Chargers front office as much as I’d like to do so. The system is flawed with the way teams can get away with so many years of control before a player can cash in on a long-term deal. I can’t blame Gordon for holding out as much as I can’t blame the Chargers brass for wanting to hold onto control for as long as they can before backing the Brinks truck up to his door. Players are now getting wise to the fact that this is the road to hoe if they’re going to avoid overuse and get paid before getting stuck on a series of one-year contracts.
Whatever they decide, they don’t have long to do it. Gordon and Smith have established the beginning of training camp, July 24, as their hard line date to get a new contract done. If they don’t get a deal, they want the Chargers to start looking for trade partners. There’s no reason at this point to believe they won’t follow through on their threat since no new news has come through the pipeline since this story broke. I believe the Chargers will shop Gordon and take the best offer they can get. Having a disgruntled player in the fold will be a huge distraction to the team, the fan base and the bottom line knowing he is at home while the team is fighting for a playoff spot. If Gordon is gone everyone has no choice but to accept it and move on. The Chargers should be able to get a Khalil Mack-esque deal. It won’t be as good but comparable in the sense that it will be multiple picks and at least one first-round pick. Brace yourselves Chargers fans. It won’t be pretty but we know, now more than ever, how much of a business the NFL has become. May the football Gods have mercy on our souls….
The Greg One
Last year, the Oakland Raiders ended the season last place in the AFC West with a 3-13 record. This was their twelfth year having a losing season and finishing last. The Raiders have long been considered a team of veterans and older players. In the last few years, they have become a younger, improved team. Young teams tend to start slow but mesh together after a few years. It appears that the Raiders are starting to mesh and should not be taken lightly going into the 2015 season.
The Raiders have not had stellar performances at the quarterback position since they appeared in Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2003. In fact, they have had nine quarterbacks since 2002. The team drafted Derek Carr out of Fresno State in the second round of the 2014 draft. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, Carr showed promise in his rookie year. He played every game in 2014 and ended the season with 3,270 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and 10 fumbles. The Raiders are hoping that Carr will be a long-term quarterback and boost the offense.
In an effort to provide Carr with more weapons at the wide receiver position, the Raiders drafted Amari Cooper out of Alabama and signed Michael Crabtree in free agency.
Former head coach Dennis Allen was fired last year after going 0-4. He was 8-28 as Oakland’s head coach. In the offseason, the Raiders hired Denver’s defensive coordinator of three years, Jack Del Rio, to be the new head coach. They hired Ken Norton Jr. as the defensive coordinator and Bill Musgrave as the offensive coordinator. Norton was the linebackers coach with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014. Musgrave served as the quarterbacks coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. The changes in the coaching staff will make looking at film from last year almost impossible as a means to assess the 2015 Raiders.
After three preseason games, it appears that the defense is the more dominant aspect of the Raiders. Khalil Mack — playing predominantly at defensive end and some outside linebacker — is making quite the impression in the preseason. Mack was drafted in the first round in 2014 from the University at Buffalo. At 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds, he had 75 tackles for loss and 16 forced fumbles in 4 years with UB. Last year, the 24-year-old recorded 76 tackles, three passes defensed, one forced fumble and four sacks.
Despite what many of us would consider to be a difficult time – waiting this long for the draft to occur, that is – we are less than a week from the NFL’s premiere offseason activity. The cattle call that is the NFL draft will be taking place before you know it. I’ll be in New York City in the blink of an eye. I’m on a plane as we speak, heading to Charlotte to see my amazing children. Then it’s time to take over NYC and the NFL draft. ( Editor’s Note: I began writing this on 5/3)
This is a big year for the Chargers and Tom Telesco. After having what many of us consider to be a solid 2013 draft class, the hope is to replicate last year’s success. Telesco nailed three potential first rounders in the first three rounds of the draft in his first go-around as an NFL GM. Perhaps, the expectation level increases knowing that a player like Stevie Williams, a fifth-round selection, has yet to play in a regular season game. Tourek Williams made the occasional play as well, despite being a sixth round pick. Additionally, Brad Sorensen managed to stay on the ’13 roster as the third quarterback. That could say a lot about what the team has in mind for the former Southern Utah signal caller.
I find it safe to say that the 2013 draft was a success. And, I think that most people in here would agree. But does that put even more pressure on Telesco to trump his rookie attempt at building the team through the draft? Sure, I can get behind that kind of thinking.
Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, Eastern Illinois
Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State
Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Taylor Lewan, OT, Michigan
Khalil Mack, LB, Buffalo
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M
Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
C.J. Mosley, LB, Alabama
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Jason Verrett, CB, TCU
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
The NFL did a great job, in my opinion, of mixing up the prospects. So, the question remains, and I’ll leave it to you, is the next Charger going to be an invitee to Radio City Music Hall? Popular mock draft choices landing in America’s finest city such as Louis Nix III and Kyle Van Noy were not invited ( That is according to the above list which is credited to NFL.com).
Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
Since it is the bye week and we have no Charger football to watch, I started to take an early look at the draft. I was looking at players “projected” to go between 15th and 25th to try and narrow down who we’d have a chance at. Defense is going to be an emphasis IMO, even with our need at LT. Our Defense is pathetic, esp at OLB, CB, and S next too Weddle, despite having decent defensive outings the past 2 weeks.
Here are the guys I will start keeping my eye on for the 1st round:
Khalil Mack, Sr. OLB Buffalo Sr. 6-3 250lbs (Estimated 40 time 4.64) Guy is a freak, yes it’s against mostly lesser competition but he is a freak none-the-less. In his first 3 seasons, he had 227 Tackles including a whopping 56 TFL, 18 sacks, 1 INT, 15 passes defended and 11 FF. He is a playmaker with a high motor and looks extremely strong. So far this year he has added 6 sacks, 2 INT’s (both returned for TD’s) 4 Passes defended and if I read correctly 8.5 more TFLs. And his best game of the season (9 tackles, 2.5 sacks, pick 6) was against Ohio State. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8cifq0S0yI
Kyle Van Noy, OLB BYU Sr. 6-3 240ish (Estimated 40 time 4.65) He is listed at 245 but looks closer to 235. Which makes him look smaller, but damn he is quick. He has a great 1st step and gets off the ball fast. He, like Mack, has been a disruptive force behind the line of scrimmage. In his first 3 seasons he had 156 tackles, 44.5 TFL, and 22 sacks while forcing 11 Fumbles. He has slightly better coverage stats than Mack with 14 Passes defended and 5 INT in his first 3 years. This season he has added 3 more sacks, 10 TFL, a pick 6 and 4 passes defended. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y2tL4xUZP_8
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB Oregon Jr. 5-10 185 (Estimated 40 time 4.44) This guy is basically the opposite of Cox. He is fast, can tackle (big hitter), and makes plays happen. He is like “Peanut” Tillman for the bears. In his only season as a starter, last year as a sophomore, he had 4 INT’s, 20 passes defended, 63 tackles, and forced 6 fumbles. He also had 8 PD in his freshman year in a limited role. He is nfldraftscout.com’s #1 ranked CB if he declares. I’d love to see us grab this guy but I dont envy anyone having to try and announce his name next year haha. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM5-orWujdU
Marcus Roberson, CB Florida Jr. 6-0 195 (Estimated 40 4.48) Roberson has a better size/speed combination than Ekpre-Olomu but doesn’t appear to be as physical. He is more of a smooth cover corner. Based on what I’ve read is that Florida leaves him out on an island mostly matched up against opposing team’s WR’s and basically takes them out of the game, which explains his lower stats. He has 17 PD and 3 Ints in 2 years as a starter to go along with 45 tackles. He could stand to be a little more physical and needs to learn how to get off of blocks in the run game but has the size and skill to be a #1 CB and he is Florida’s main punt returner avg 12.2 ypr on 10 returns. The biggest downside to Roberson, he has missed at least 3 games both last season and this season with injuries. With the poor luck we have had with injuries, that might bee too much of a risk for TT and crew to pull the trigger. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqXfJtvVYW8
I don’t like the look of Bradley Roby who most people considered the #1 corner heading into this season. I have seen 3 of his games this season and in 2 of them he got destroyed deep and had multiple pass interference penalties. I also don’t see any Safeties that will be there when we pick in the first round that are worth a 1st rounder unless HaHa Clinton-Dix out of Alabama slips to us. Two other CB names to watch are Aaron Colvin(decent cover corner, good aggressive tackler) out of OU and Loucheiz Purifoy (good cover corner, special teams demon) out of Florida as well.