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One of the bigger mysteries in this young 2019 season is how long star running back Melvin Gordon will stay away from the Los Angeles Chargers.
General manager Tom Telesco has already signaled that the Chargers will not negotiate a new contract until after the season, and Gordon may be realizing that his leverage is disappearing.
Gordon’s backup Austin Ekeler was excellent in a Week 1 win over the Indianapolis Colts, with 58 yards on just 12 carries, and even Justin Jackson picked up 57 yards on six touches. A report from ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler now shows that Gordon may be blinking in his standoff.
Gordon soon responded by signaling that any reports without a direct quote from him are not to be trusted, something he pretty much has to do to maintain what leverage he has.
That Gordon will report at some point is not too big of a surprise. The 26-year-old former first-rounder may be inspired by Le’Veon Bell’s holdout last season, but one major difference is that Gordon is actually still under contract.
Bell was freed from the Pittsburgh Steelers because he never signed his franchise tender. The Steelers decided not to tag him again, and he was free to go. However, since Gordon is in the final year of his contract, if he doesn’t report by Week 10, this season will not count, and the Chargers will retain his rights in 2020, making his holdout moot.
Gordon wants a raise on his $5.6 million salary, likely in the eight figures after Ezekiel Elliott landed a massive new deal. It’s fair for him to want to protect himself from injuries to ensure he’ll reach that new pay day, and cutting his number of games played in half could be an effective way to do that.
However, every day that he’s away from the Chargers could be another point towards how replaceable running backs are in the NFL. If the Chargers are just fine without their big-name back, other teams may not be as willing to shell out $10 million next summer.
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