The Los Angeles Chargers gather for training camp in Costa Mesa, California, in 13 days. But with less than a fortnight remaining until their 2019 season begins in earnest, one of their offensive stars has a message for the Chargers: Let’s agree to an extension now or I won’t be there.
New contract or holdout
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Thursday morning that Fletcher Smith, the agent for running back Melvin Gordon, has informed Los Angeles that unless he receives a new contract, he will not report to training camp and will demand a trade.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said Gordon felt disrespected by the offer made to him by the team, and that’s why he’s threatening a holdout.
"He's very serious," Damarius Bilbo, one of Gordon’s agents, told Rapoport. "He's worked his butt off and the fifth-year option is a result of where he was drafted. It's what it is. But if we'd gotten a respectable offer, we wouldn't be here. But he felt disrespected. He's very serious."
Bilbo wouldn’t rule out a holdout going into the regular season and told Rapoport, “If Melvin is not paid fairly, he will want to be traded.”
Gordon, the 15th overall pick in 2015, is headed into the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, an option year that is worth $5.6 million.
That’s the 11th-highest salary at the position for 2019, though it’s tied to his draft position via the collective-bargaining agreement.
Given that as a running back this could be Gordon’s one big multi-year extension, he doesn’t want to risk losing that opportunity. If he gets hurt without that safety net, it would likely affect any potential deal in 2020.
‘If it’s going to happen, it’ll happen’
During the Chargers’ mini-camp last month, Gordon told reporters that his agent had engaged in some preliminary talks with the team about an extension.
Smith told Schefter that he and Gordon didn’t want to take a hard-line stance, but because of the lack of progress in negotiations they have decided to go public with their displeasure.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn't want a deal done,” Gordon said in June. “But that's not going to stop me from coming out here and doing what I need to do. We're going to see. I would like to go out there and have it done. We're talking right now, and that's kind of where I'm going to leave it.”
When he was asked about not playing in 2019 if he didn’t get an extension, Gordon didn’t dismiss the notion.
“I don't know, man. I'm just trying not to talk about it. If it's going to happen, it'll happen,” he said. “When it does, I'm pretty sure you guys will know.”
Two-time Pro Bowler
Gordon was selected as a Pro Bowler in two of his first four seasons including last season, when he missed four games to injury.
In 12 regular-season starts, he had 885 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns plus 50 catches for 490 yards and four more touchdowns.
However, he was quiet in the playoffs, totaling just 69 yards from scrimmage in two games.
Gordon has three straight seasons of at least 1,300 yards from scrimmage, and his 38 career touchdowns only rank behind the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley among 2015 draftees (Gurley has 46).
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