On Thursday it was reported that Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has requested a trade from the team. The former Wisconsin back has balked at the Chargers current contract offer of $10 million per season, leading to his agent requesting the team trades their top halfback.
The question is, which teams, if any, could be in the market for Gordon?
We at Franchise Sports had quite a bit of trouble identifying some teams that may choose to trade for Gordon. Below is analysis of some candidates and what seems the most likely outcome.
Indy fits the bill primarily because they have a massive amount of cap room (over $45 million) which they could easily absorb Gordon’s demands into.
In addition, talent wise, Gordon could be considered an upgrade on the current options on the Colts roster averaging 5.1 yards/carry last year in 12 games compared to incumbent Marlon Mack who averaged 4.7 yards/carry.
Also, whilst Indianapolis had a fantastic offence last year, they could stand to upgrade the running game which averaged only 83 yards per game (though part of that could be attributed to Mack missing time through injury).
The team may also feel that with quarterback Andrew Luck entering his eighth season, they really need to surround their signal caller with more weapons.
Nonetheless it would be a shock if general manager Chris Ballard swung a trade for Gordon as it doesn’t fit his modus operandi. Ballard is keen on building via the draft and has shown a reluctance to add high priced free agents. Handing over draft picks and a bucketload of cash would indicate a dramatic departure from the way he wants to construct this roster.
The Colts’ AFC South rivals could also be a potential destination. Lead running back Lamar Miller’s contract expires at the end of this season and he hasn’t quite turned into the 1,000 yard back the franchise envisioned back in 2016.
Like the Colts, Houston has the cap space (over $40 million) and so even if they can’t move on from Miller this season, they could stash both runners on their roster.
On the other hand, I get the impression the Texans are pretty hot on third year back D’Onta Foreman who missed the entirety of last season with an Achilles injury.
In addition, they’ve already been bitten by handing over lots of money to a player in Miller who didn’t quite have the impact the team hoped for. They’re also more likely to hang onto draft picks to keep rebuilding their offensive line.
Miami are one of the few teams in the league that have don’t a stable situation at running back.
Whilst there are positive reports coming out of camp about sophomore running back Kallen Ballage, trading for Gordon would be a significant upgrade and provide rookie head coach Brian Flores with an offensive talent to build around.
I think, though, that we can write this one off pretty quickly. The ‘Fins are firmly in rebuild mode which means draft picks are precious. It would be a significant departure from their long term plan to give up draft resources for Gordon.
This brings us back to the AFC South. The Jags have over $18 million in cap space, which doesn’t give them as much flexibility as their division rivals. But it’s still workable for Tom Coughlin and Dave Caldwell.
That could particularly be the case if they can throw Leonard Fournette into the deal. The former LSU back came in for criticism from Coughlin last year and currently takes up $7.4m in cap room. That could indicate a willingness from the Jags to ship Fournette out of Florida.
Whilst Fournette did record over 1,000 yards in his first season in the league in 2017, his average yards per carry was a less than impressive 3.9 yards. In addition to that, he has proven to be bitten by the injury bug quite frequently during his two years in the league.
Jacksonville lacks top tier weapons at wide receiver so could choose to support their new quarterback Nick Foles.
If Fournette is made part of the deal, that may lower the Chargers asking price in terms of draft compensation. In California, Fournette would be the lead back but wouldn’t have as heavy a workload as he has had on the East Coast, which could lessen time spent in the trainer’s room.
The likely outcome…
Despite all of this, I’d be shocked if a significant market materialises for Gordon.
We know how teams are shying away from paying big bucks to running backs, especially when they know they can pick up a midround pick in the draft who can be effective in a committee approach.
The timing of this also doesn’t help. Had Gordon’s demands come prior to the draft then teams like the Bills may have been interested in serious discussions with LA. Looking through the list of teams in the league, it’s hard to find one desperate enough to upgrade its running back room that they would hand over the type of contract Gordon is after.
Which brings me to the other key problem here, and ultimately the reason most of the team here at FS see Gordon as remaining a Charger. There doesn’t look to be a team who will give Gordon the type of money he is looking for.
The Chargers offer of $10 million per year would have made Gordon the fourth highest paid running back in the league. That’s a steep price to pay for a back who has only managed a full regular season slate of games once in four years and whose yards per carry average was consistently below 4 yards until last season.
Ultimately Chargers general manager Tom Telesco is likely to win this stand off with Gordon being forced to accept the Chargers contract in the absence of any competing offers.
(Cap figures obtained from overthecap.com)