Sometimes in the NFL the trades that do actually happen are the ones that no one sees coming.
So while the Packers and Buccaneers, along with the other team’s everyone is talking about like the Texans or Colts, could certainly make a trade happen, let’s talk about a potential dark horse team that could quietly enter the running: The San Francisco 49ers.
Many have them pegged as a team on the rise. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have done a fine job building that roster. If Jimmy Garoppolo can stay healthy they could make some noise this season.
Lynch has already traded for Dee Ford, so why not take another big swing and trade for Gordon? Yes, they signed Tevin Coleman in the offseason and yes Jerick McKinnon should be healthy this season but neither of them are the caliber of backs that Gordon is.
With all due respect to Devonta Freeman, Gordon would be the best back that Shanahan has ever had in his offense. He would instantly upgrade that offense, providing versatility and stability to their running back position.
In this scenario, the Chargers would have a few options depending on their preferences.
Coleman would be a solid replacement and be able to split early-down work with Jackson, but his cap hit is probably not the route they would prefer. McKinnon and Matt Breida have both flashed explosiveness with their respective teams, but McKinnon’s even more expensive than Coleman.
Meanwhile, Breida is still on his extremely friendly rookie deal and would allow the Chargers more cap flexibility. The Niners are mostly set across the offensive line. They also have quality depth behind their starters.
Perhaps the Chargers would be willing to take a chance on former Browns starter Shonn Coleman or former first-round pick Joshua Garnett. Would a package of Breida and either Coleman or Garnett be enough for Gordon though? That’s a lot of moving parts but the Chargers could ultimately get two trade pieces to provide depth and have the space to go sign another current free agent.
While the Chargers would have options if they do decide to trade Gordon, the problem is that it’s hard to see any of these scenarios an upgrade for this current season.
Trade with Buccaneers for picks and the team would have a nice haul of draft picks, with which they could use to eventually replace Gordon after this season. But then they are banking on Jackson, Ekeler and maybe a cheap free-agent signing like Jay Ajayi or Alex Collins to carry the run game to achieve their goal of a Super Bowl. That’s not ideal.
Trading for Williams or Breida could keep those dreams afloat. But Gordon is obviously still the better option. If this had all come about before the draft and free agency then yes they could have traded him because they would have had much better options to replace him.
As of right now, they are stuck, there are no better options. A trio of Jackson, Ekeler and (insert potential free-agent signing or trade target here) could be solid, but still a step down from their current rotation.
If they really want to contend for a Super Bowl this season they NEED to give Gordon the extension he deserves.