The two month holdout between Melvin Gordon and the Los Angeles Chargers will come to an end on Thursday, per multiple sources.
Per, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Melvin Gordon has finally decided to end his holdout:
Sources: The holdout is ending. #Chargers RB Melvin Gordon is, in fact, reporting to the team tomorrow. He won’t play this week, but he is planning to be back in the fold with his teammates.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 25, 2019
This news officially ends all of the suspense that’s lingered since early July when Gordon’s holdout was announced. What does it mean right now? Gordon will not play this week in Miami, but he will likely play his first game in week five against Denver. The running back will finish the season with the Chargers and play all games while healthy.
ESPN NFL reporter Josina Anderson reported that while Gordon is back in the fold for the rest of 2019, he expects to be gone in 2020:
— ig: josinaanderson (@JosinaAnderson) September 25, 2019
While he may expect this to be his last season with the Chargers, it’s hard to read too much into that. For all we know, it could very well be a leverage play for free agency in 2020. The reality is there’s still not many teams jumping at the chance to go above the $10 million dollar average annual value the Chargers were sitting at.
The question on the mind of every Chargers fan is what the backfield will look like now. Is Gordon back to being the number one running back fairly quickly? Will it be more of a split with Austin Ekeler? It’s fair to assume Justin Jackson will be bumped down to his role at third on the depth chart that he had last year. Troymaine Pope could presumably be waived and put on the practice squad starting next week. Expect to see a 50/50 split between Gordon and Ekeler in terms of carries and snaps until Gordon gets tuned up.
Other than just Chargers fans, there’s another group affected by this news: Fantasy players. While the ultimate conclusion people would draw would be that Ekeler’s value goes way down while Gordon’s goes up, he can still be fairly productive. There’s potential for him to still be a second running back or flex option should he get somewhere between seven and ten touches per game. Last year, when Ekeler hit that range in touches, he average 11.45 fantasy points a game in PPR formats. While he may be a tempting sell in fantasy leagues, it may make sense to hold onto him, especially since running backs are always so thin in deeper leagues down the stretch.