Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon has been one of the most productive backs in the NFL since he was drafted in 2015. He would now like to be recognized as such. The Pro Bowler told the Chargers to either give him a new contract or find him a new home on Thursday, and the situation may spill over into training camp.
Multiple teams will have interest in Gordon, who has established himself as one of the best dual threats in the game. The major knock against the former Badger is his lengthy injury history; he’s only played one full season in his four years in the NFL, and missed time last season with an MCL injury. Still, he’s a powerful runner when healthy, and capable of catching 50 balls out of the backfield each year. Here are four teams who might end up landing Gordon if L.A. won’t give him a new deal.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers will have a new look next season for the first time in a long time after bringing in Matt LeFleur and signing marquee defenders Preston and Za’Darius Smith. Why not add another new face to the locker room and give Aaron Rodgers the best backfield mate he’s ever had? Aaron Jones is an interesting piece, but Gordon is already better than even the most optimistic projections for Jones.
While Rodgers has never loved to hit his check-down receiver, Gordon is good enough in the open field to design pass plays for him. He’d make Green Bay’s offense, already as dangerous as they come, even more deadly. The clock is ticking to take advantage of Rodgers while he’s healthy and still at the peak of his powers. Gordon isn’t going to make or break their title chances, but if Green Bay has the opportunity to add to one of the stronger units in the game, they should take advantage.
The Seahawks have loved to establish the run game in recent years, but haven’t been able to do so successfully after Marshawn Lynch’s departure. There’s some talent in the backfield, but Gordon would immediately give the offense a needed boost and take the playmaking load off Russell Wilson. Seattle is in it for the long run with their franchise QB after signing Wilson to a hefty extension over the offseason. A legitimate threat behind him would help immensely, and the return of a true ground game would elevate Seattle’s offense to new heights; Wilson is much better than he was even three years ago, and he wouldn’t have to run for his life so regularly if teams weren’t sure he was going to have the ball in most crucial situations.
Seattle’s strength has long been their defense, but the Legion of Boom is officially gone, and the only remaining All-Pro on their defense is Bobby Wagner. They’re going to need their offense more than ever, and while Gordon’s body isn’t as conducive to the ground-and-pound game as Lynch, he’ll open up the field in ways Wilson hasn’t seen since Beastmode. If the Seahawks are serious about putting weapons around their franchise figure, this is the move to make.
The Jaguars are going all in this year. They signed Nick Foles to a huge deal over the offseason and retained all key members of their defense while investing in the trenches during the draft. They had a taste of success in 2017, and they want to get back to the playoffs. Gordon would go a long way in their quest to do so. Leonard Fournette is simply not working out; when he’s actually on the field, the LSU product averaged all of three yards per carry despite getting 16 touches per game last year. He provides nothing out of the backfield. As much as it hurts to consider the former No. 4 overall pick a sunk cost only two years after being drafted, but that’s what he is at this point. Gordon would help soothe that hurt.
His versatility would be exceptionally valuable for a team without many offensive weapons, and Tom Coughlin has always loved to throw it back. The best way to ensure the Foles contract doesn’t quickly become a massive overpay is to put him in a run-first offense where he isn’t relied upon to carry the team. They tried that with Blake Bortles, but Foles can make the simple throws Bortles couldn’t. Gordon’s playmaking and mere presence will take the primary playmaking responsibility off Foles. Given how crucial Gordon would be to their offense, his durability concerns are heightened, but if the Jags want to be taken seriously, this would be a good first step.