The Backfield Waits for No One: The Melvin Gordon Saga Comes to Mile High
NFL Running Back, Melvin Gordon, has officially signed a 2 year contract with the Denver Broncos this month. The organization has agreed to pay the former division rival $16 million over two years with $13.5 million guaranteed upon signing. Melvin Gordon played college in his home state of Wisconsin and was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Some of his past career highlights include being a two time pro-bowler in 2016 and 2018, a Big Ten offensive player of the year in 2014 and a heisman trophy runner up in 2014 to name a few. In 2019, he reached 4,240 career rushing yards. His career rushing average, 4.0, was topped in 2018 when it reached 5.1 for that season. With career stats showing 36 rushing touchdowns, 224 receptions for 1,873 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns, Gordon only has one season reaching over 1,000 yards rushing mostly due to injuries, yet he seems to be building steam. He has gained at least 400 yards receiving in each of the last 3 seasons. That all came to somewhat of a halt once Gordon decided to gamble on his talent in the NFL for more money.
Following in the footsteps of fellow running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Le’Veon Bell, Melvin Gordon announced he was seeking a new contract, a raise from the 5.6 million he was due to receive in 2019. If he didn't get a new deal, he announced that he would be requesting a trade from the Chargers organization. According to multiple reports, the Los Angeles Chargers wanted to give Gordon more than what running back Devonte Freeman was making but lower than what running back David Johnson was receiving. He would have landed as the 4th highest paid running back in the league. Gordon was on his fifth year option as a first round draft pick from 2015 and was eligible for the free agency market after the season, making no difference on the hold out. His decision to do so likely costed him money with the Broncos deal but saved him from possible injuries in theory.
The Chargers had just 84 rushing yards per game without Gordon, compared to 128.1 when he was active on the field. Phillip Rivers though has only thrown 22 interceptions over a two year period and seemed to be willing to take more chances at becoming more of an aerial attack style of playing in the offense, a conflict in offensive styles, maybe contributing to some team decisions. Currently the Chargers have an 18/1 odds of winning the Super Bowl without Melvin Gordon according to SportsLine.
According to Rap Sheet Analyst Ian Rappaport, Melvin Gordon was approached with a higher offer from another team. He refused that offer in order to play in the same division as his former team, according to Rappaport. Now that he will be playing for the Denver Broncos, he wants to prove that he is a difference maker in the NFL, and that the Chargers may be sorry. After averaging only 3.8 yards per carry on 612 yards and 42 catches for only 296 yards receiving last season, Gordon went on record stating that people need to put into account that there was the lack of a consistent center, left tackle, and injuries to starting linemen that made his season challenging but says he’s not going to use that as an excuse and is pressed to become an above average player for that position even with the possible future adversities he might face.
Denver ranked 20th in rushing offense (103.9 yards per game) and 28th in scoring offense (17.6 points per game) during the 2019 season. Also in 2019, the Denver Broncos were one of the fifth worst teams in yards per game, red-zone efficiency, points per game, and 3rd down percentages. Only ranking 16th in rushing through the season’s first 11th games, the need for another power horse in the backfield became more apparent after falling to the 29th ranking position during the final five games. Combined with Phillip Lindsey, Melvin Gordon should add to a successful season in the Mile High City. This Bronco backfield waits for no one, and may be poised to buck from the starting gate.