Melvin Gordon Demands New Contract, Threatens Holdout


Fresh off a Pro Bowl season, Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon is demanding a new contract as he enters the last year of his rookie deal.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported early Thursday that Gordon will hold out of training camp if he doesn’t get a new deal and will demand a trade.

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Gordon’s agent, Fletcher Smith, said he didn’t want to go this route but a lack of progress on a new deal has forced his client’s hand.

As early as January, Gordon was talking about getting a new contract.

“I’m sitting back waiting, waiting on Bell,” he said, referring to Le’Veon Bell’s contract offers.

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Bell’s four-year, $52.5 million offer from the New York Jets seemingly set the market for top-tier running backs, but it doesn’t appear that the Chargers have offered Gordon anything close to that.

Gordon also can bring up Todd Gurley as an example of a team taking care of its star running back. Like Gordon, Gurley was a first-round pick in 2015, but the Los Angeles Ram received a new contract extension last offseason while Gordon doesn’t even have one this offseason.

According to Spotrac, Gordon’s average salary of $2.67 million ranks 27th among running backs. He made $10.68 million over the first four years of his rookie contract.

Gordon’s production far outweighs his salary: His 5.1 yards per rushing attempt ranked third in the league among players with at least 175 carries. He also finished tied for fifth in the NFL with 14 touchdowns despite playing in just 12 games.

The advanced metrics love Gordon even more than the traditional statistics. No one performed better against eight-plus men in the box than Gordon did last year, per Pro Football Focus.

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Even with his contract displeasure, Gordon did report to minicamp in June and at the time said the contract wasn’t going to stop him from showing up and putting in the work.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want a deal done,” Gordon told reporters June 11. “But that’s not going to stop me from coming out here and doing what I need to do. We’re going to see. I would like to go out there and have it done. We’re talking right now, and that’s kind of where I’m going to leave it.”

Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said at the time that the contract stuff will take care of itself, but clearly it hasn’t.

“Melvin Gordon is extremely important to us,” Lynn said. “When he’s out here on the field, he works his tail off. He’s gotten better every year that I’ve been here. I think he’s headed in the right direction. If he just goes out and keeps doing what he’s been doing, that contract stuff will take care of itself.”

The Chargers didn’t add any running backs in the draft or free agency this offseason, so if Gordon were to miss time, the bulk of the carries would go to either third-year back Austin Ekeler or second-year back Justin Jackson.

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Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009.
Ross Kelly has been a sportswriter since 2009 and previously worked for ESPN, CBS and STATS Inc. A native of Louisiana, Ross now resides in Houston.
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