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Melvin Gordon May Just Hold Out…Why?

Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has let it be known to anyone who’ll listen that he’s not happy with his contract status. And he says he’s willing to play hardball with the team if that’s what it takes. Yep, he’s threatening to hold out.

My question for Gordon is simple. Why?

Why the sudden “pay me huge now or trade me” tone with management? Did we all miss something over the past four years? Was the L.A. coaching staff wearing the running back out through overuse? Was GM Tom Telesco playing some cruel, ongoing mind games with Gordon that no one ever had a clue about?

There’s little doubt that he’s the main man when it comes to the team’s running game. And because of that, he’s certainly a huge part of the offense, but there are some areas in which the Chargers’ bell cow seems to fall a little short compared to other feature backs around the league. At least those who consider themselves the elite of the elite.

For starters, he’s played a full sixteen games in only one season. Durability has been a concern among many scouts and personnel people since he first came into the NFL. He missed four games just last season.

But the touchiest subject might just be that when the games counted most, Melvin Gordon seemed to show out not much at all. In the Bolts opening-round playoff win over Baltimore, he rushed for forty yards and had one catch. Things only got worse the next weekend in New England with 15 yards rushing and again just a single catch, for 11 yards. They say Bill Belichick is a genius when it comes to taking away one thing that his opponent does well. In the case of last year’s playoffs, maybe the Pat’s mastermind simply played the tape of the Ravens game from the week before.

A few other stats to keep in mind, for what they’re worth: He’s had one 1,000-yard season in his career. He averaged over four yards per carry in only one season, last year when he averaged an impressive 5.1 per, and his average carries per game for his career is 16. But perhaps the most telling stat of all for Gordon is this one: The Chargers won all four games he missed last season.

All of which leads to the question that begs to be asked: What kind of running back is he?

As I said, Gordon is a huge component of the Charger offense. There’s probably not a GM or head coach in the league who wouldn’t want him in his backfield. Yeah, he’s an extremely talented back. But again, I ask, “What kind of running back is he?” A game-breaker? Not based on his per-carry average. A workhorse who just keeps getting stronger the more carries he gets in a game? Not when you average 16 carries per game. And certainly not when you routinely miss multiple games each season due to injury.

Melvin Gordon says he wants to “get paid”. Of course, that’s what he says. It’s the flavor-of-the-month quote that seemingly every professional athlete goes to when they simply want more. “I wanna get paid.”

Gordon is a really good back, even one of the best dozen or so all-around runners in the league. The issue is I’m just not sure he’s quite the elite-level back that should be able to threaten his team with a holdout and hold fans hostage to his contract whims. I just don’t know that I would give in to his demands. But, then again, it’s not my call.

Your move, Mr. Telesco.

Mike Clark

Author Mike Clark

Founder of the sports blog Member, Football Writers Association of America

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