Melvin Gordon had a chance to make more money last offseason with the offer from the LA Chargers. Now, he finds himself on a shorter-term deal worth less in average annual value with the Broncos.
The first takeaway is that Gordon got dramatically less than he had originally wanted from his holdout. Gordon was looking for a contract in the range of $12+ million a year. Here, he ends up settling for just about eight million in average annual value.
Last summer, the Chargers offered Gordon a contract worth $10 million in average annual value. Looking at it as a two-year extension, Gordon would be making $20 million over the same period.
However, in all likelihood, the extension the Chargers offered last summer was both pricier and probably had more years on the deal. The sticking point was really the average annual value and the fact that Gordon wanted to be one of the highest-paid running backs.
The part that is particularly interesting to me about Gordon’s decision to sign with the Broncos is the reported reasoning. As mentioned in the tweet above, he wanted to stay in the same division as the Chargers and even took less money to do so. Obviously, it seems like he’s not very happy with the way negotiations broke down last year. Perhaps he feels that management and the organization wronged him.
As for the idea that he took less money to stay with Broncos because of this beef with management, it doesn’t seem that believable when looking at his market. Teams like the Dolphins and Buccaneers still had tons of cap space to throw at Gordon going into Friday.
He spoke with the Dolphins, and per Cameron Wolfe, they weren’t willing to take him unless it was “the right price”. When looking at the free-agent field, it simply doesn’t seem like there was a robust market for the former Chargers running back.
Either way, Gordon was motivated to sign with the Broncos to get back at the Chargers. What exactly does he feel the need to get back at them for? As we’ve gone over, the Chargers offered him more money and years on than he ended up getting. It was his decision to hold out and decrease his value, not Tom Telesco’s.
When his agent, Damarius Bilbo, requested the ability for Gordon to seek a trade, the Chargers granted the request. The Chargers were professional towards Gordon throughout the whole process, as far as the reports go.
They offered him more money than he got with Denver, granted his trade request, and allowed him to come back and play when he realized the holdout was a mistake despite the September Austin Ekeler had.
Perhaps there’s some behind the scenes beef with the front office none of us know about. But when it comes to the contract discussions and how Telesco treated him, Gordon has no reason to complain.
Gordon’s holdout was also directly responsible for him being replaced, as it allowed the Chargers to see what Ekeler as the main back would look like over an extended period of time. In the time Gordon was gone, Ekeler had 490 total yards and six combined touchdowns. Had he not held out, it’s possible he’d be back with the Chargers after a better year. That might’ve left Ekeler to spin the free agent carousel instead.
When he came back in the fifth game of the season, the LA Chargers even played Gordon to their own detriment. Everyone remembers the Titans game where the Chargers got to the goal line and decided to try to run it in multiple times with Gordon.
He couldn’t deliver. He also had the most fumbles since his rookie year despite playing in four fewer games. The Chargers played Gordon more when he came back despite lesser production and the fact Ekeler was playing better.
Gordon took a lesser deal with the Broncos after getting a much bigger contract offer from the Chargers last offseason. He wanted to play in the same division as the Chargers and still holds some bitterness towards the organization for how 2019 went.
In reality, Gordon has no one to blame but himself. He and his management team made the decision to hold out. Not Telesco. The Chargers offered him a respectable contract and he turned it down. During and after Gordon’s holdout, the team was always professional to him.
They granted his trade request. In the face of mounting pressure to play Ekeler more, the team stuck with Gordon. They were loyal to a fault. Gordon’s feelings towards the LA Chargers are based on nothing but fiction and narratives he has spun in his own head.