Melvin Gordon to Demand Trade, Hold Out of Training Camp Without New Contract

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 11, 2019

FILE - In this  Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018 file photo, Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon rushes during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos in Denver. Gordon is going into the final year of his contract. The fifth-year running back said after practice that he didn’t want to miss any practices but also didn’t rule out not being here when the team conducts its first training camp practice, Tuesday, June 11, 2019 . (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon wants a new contract and is willing to sit out training camp as a result.

Gordon’s agent, Fletcher Smith, told Adam Schefter of ESPN his client will not report to training camp and will demand a trade if the Chargers do not give him a new deal.

Gordon, the No. 15 overall pick in the 2015 draft, is set to receive $5.6 million this season, according to Schefter.

The Wisconsin product has established himself as one of the best three-down backs in the league at just 26 years old. He tallied 885 rushing yards, 490 receiving yards and 14 total touchdowns in 12 games last season, and he played a full 16 games and finished with 1,105 rushing yards in 2017.

Pro Football Focus noted Gordon was its highest-graded running back against boxes of eight or more defenders and third-highest overall player last year. Dan Graziano of ESPN called him "one of the most underpaid players in the league relative to role and past accomplishments."

According to Schefter, Gordon sees himself as worthy of being paid like a top running back given those accomplishments:

"Other top running backs—Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Le'Veon Bell—recently have received new deals, and Gordon wants to be the next running back added to that illustrious list. He is unwilling to take the Chargers' offer that does not put him near the salaries of those top running backs." 

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ESPN's Field Yates pointed to Gordon's versatility while acknowledging the value of the running back position will factor into negotiations.

It often isn't difficult for NFL teams to find replacements at running back—James Conner ran for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Pittsburgh Steelers while Bell sat out last year—but Gordon is one of the league's best playmakers and is in the middle of his prime.

This demand put the ball in the Chargers' court to pay him accordingly. How they respond could help shape the AFC West race.

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