The Los Angeles Chargers and starting running back Melvin Gordonare in a contract-negotiation standoff. Gordon is in the final year of his rookie deal and feels his value to the team is more than his salary reflects (which is true). He reportedly will not attend training camp unless he gets a new deal or a trade (followed by a new deal). The Chargers, meanwhile, aren’t exactly eager to back up the Brinks truck, as evidenced by the fact that Gordon still has no deal.
The negotiations have been kept under wraps over the last two weeks, but ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the Chargers offered Gordon a deal worth $10-11 million a year. Keeping in mind that Schefter didn’t report the length of the deal or the finer details (how much is guaranteed, what incentives are included, etc) the deal is actually quite reasonable from a yearly-salary perspective.
Getting paid $10 million a year would make Gordon the fourth-highest paid back in the league behind Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, and David Johnson. Gordon is a good player, but he’s not better than any of the backs listed above. The former Wisconsin Badger definitely deserves a raise — he can give a team 1,200 yards on the ground and 50 catches a year with the potential to hit double-digit touchdowns — but he’s just not good enough to demand a higher salary than the Chargers offered. Again, depending on the fine print.
We also haven’t mentioned his lengthy injury history yet, which is the biggest detriment to getting a long-term deal done for a running back. He played in 12 games last year and overall has only played one full season in his career. That isn’t a problem that will get better as time goes on, either. If this really is the offer Gordon received, he should be pretty happy about it, because there aren’t many other teams willing to pony up that kind of salary for any running back.
Again, this is just based on the yearly salary number. There are hundreds of other aspects of an NFL contract that would make it unappealing or very advantageous to the team, not the player. But in today’s NFL, it’s hard to be picky as a running back. That’s why only three other backs have yearly salaries over $10 million. Gordon is playing a dangerous game, and it remains to be seen if it will pay off.