The chargers haven’t exactly been PR savants over the last few years, but following the announcement of Ezekiel Elliott’s new contract with the Cowboys, they look downright delusional in their negotiations with Melvin Gordon.
Let’s start with Elliott’s contract, based on various supporting reports: Six years, $90 million, including $50 million in guarantees. That eclipses everyone in the field of highest-paid running back in the NFL by a wide margin in most categories, including total money (by $32.5M), guaranteed money ($18.8M) and average salary ($625K/year). But back to Gordon.
This offseason, the Chargers and Gordon’s representatives reportedly engaged in several rounds of negotiations. The sticking point, again according to multiple reports, was the Chargers’ unwillingness to go over $10 million per year. While Gordon is no Elliott, he is a two-time Pro Bowler, a two-way star (rushing and receiving) and a difference-maker when he’s on the field. And the fact that star running back contracts or contract extensions are trending in the direction of $13 million or more (David Johnson’s contract averages $13M, Le’Veon Bell’s averages $13.125M, Todd Gurley’s is $14.375, and Zeke is at $15M), Gordon, not the Chargers, looks like the smart person in this situation. Clearly, he deserves more than $10 million a year.
Forgetting the misguided negotiating tactics by the Chargers, we now are in a place where they are offering Gordon’s camp the chance to seek a trade. There’s only one problem: the Chargers reportedly want a first- and fifth-round pick for him in return. With all due respect to the Chargers, they’re crazy if that’s the actual asking price considering Jadeveon Clowney was just traded for a third-round pick and two players who may or may not amount to anything in the NFL.
In 2015, the Chargers pulled out of negotiations with the city of San Diego and decided to relocate to Los Angeles. The aftermath of that situation was a PR disaster. Their loyal fans turned on them, casual fans turned on them, and they have struggled to build a fan base in LA despite a successful season last year. Now they’re on the precipice of competing for a Super Bowl title and are willing to risk it all over a few million dollars. While that seems like a lot to us, for an NFL franchise worth over a billion bucks, that’s nothing.
Gordon comes out of the Zeke contract negations looking smart. He’s in the final year of his deal and is set to make just over $5.6 million this year. That’s not enough for a player of his caliber, nor is the $10 million the Chargers reportedly wanted to pay him. But at the end of the day, the Chargers are used to getting lambasted for decisions they made, and ironically enough, it seems they don’t care that those doing the lambasting are justified.