Chargers: Seven important 2020 unrestricted free agent decisions
Decision No. 4: Melvin Gordon
Gordon enters free agency in 2020 after a turbulent 2019. From July, he started his holdout that lasted all the way through the first month of the season. Once he came back, it was clear he wasn’t quite as on his game as he would have liked to have been. Gordon has admitted himself that the holdout, in hindsight, was ill-advised.
From the game-ending fumble in Tennessee to a miserable two-fumble performance vs. Minnesota, Gordon never really turned it on. 3.8 yards per carry was a 1.3 yard per carry decline from the 5.1 he averaged in his incredible 2018.
The efficiency of Gordon just wasn’t there early, and despite some good games in the middle stretch, he reverted back in the last three weeks of the season with really poor running.
Would Gordon’s season have been different without the holdout? It’s very possible. It’s never easy to jump back into the fray after having missed training camp and the preseason.
What should happen: It’s time to move on from Gordon. Austin Ekeler has proven his worth to the team in a breakout season for him, and he’s two years younger. Justin Jackson hasn’t been a slouch himself either.
2020 is a time to build around those two guys as opposed to making the decision to overpay an aging running back after a season filled with decline and red flags. In addition to Ekeler and Jackson, a goal line type veteran running back would be necessary.
What will happen: This was probably the toughest prediction to make. While Gordon’s market value should theoretically be high, the running back position being devalued in addition to the tough season he had makes it really tough to estimate what contract he’ll get.
Also, none of us really know where the Chargers stand on Gordon currently. Four months ago, $10 million a year was on the table. Is that still the case with Ekeler’s breakout and Gordon’s holdout and season?
Based on the philosophy of the current regime on running backs, my guess will be that Gordon will not return in 2020 and will sign with another team on a three or four-year deal.