August 24 was quite an active Saturday for the AFC South division. The Houston Texans lost their starting running back Lamar Miller on the second play of their preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys to a torn ACL, and the Indianapolis Colts lost quarterback Andrew Luck after his shocking decision to retire.
Meanwhile, in the AFC West, Melvin Gordon is still holding out for a long-term contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. The two sides still aren’t seeing eye to eye with the regular season just two weeks away. Here are three reasons why the Texans should take advantage of the Melvin Gordon situation and trade for the 26-year-old back.
1. Lamar Miller’s injury leaves a huge hole at running back
Last season, Lamar Miller rushed for five touchdowns and 973 yards on 210 attempts. Alfred Blue served as the team’s backup running back and rushed for 499 yards on 150 attempts, averaging only 3.3 yards per carry. Blue wasn’t resigned this offseason; instead, the Texans made a trade with the Cleveland Browns to acquire Duke Johnson to be Miller’s backup this season.
Johnson has compiled 1,286 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns on 299 career carries through his first four seasons in the NFL. He was used primarily on receiving downs in Cleveland, averaging 59 catches and 542.5 yards per season out of the backfield over that stretch.
While Johnson should be a good fit in this Texans offense, he has never handled full-time duties in the NFL. He would be best utilized with a teammate who could help him shoulder the load. And with the depth chart and free-agent market both looking unappealing, Gordon could be the team’s best option.
2. The Texans have the cap space to sign Melvin Gordon long-term
Melvin Gordon is coming off of a career year in 2018. In 12 games played, he rushed for 885 yards on 175 carries and found the endzone 10 times. He also had 50 catches for 490 yards and four more touchdowns in the receiving game.
Gordon started the preseason with demands of being paid at the same level as the top running backs in the game. That isn’t going to happen, with Los Angeles or anyone else. He has to know this, and as the regular season rapidly approaches with the Chargers showing no signs of budging, Gordon would love the chance to negotiate with a new team.
The Houston Texans have the second-most cap space in the NFL. They have plenty of wiggle room to negotiate a deal with Gordon that makes sense for both sides. Getting any new deal would be a win for Melvin Gordon compared to the impending holdout he is facing, and creating a 1-2 punch of Gordon and Johnson in the backfield would be a win for Houston.
3. The AFC South is suddenly wide open with Andrew Luck’s retirement
With a healthy Andrew Luck, the Indianapolis Colts were big favorites to win the AFC North. After Luck’s retirement, the Colts are now the biggest long shot to win the division. Per the latest odds from BetOnline, the Houston Texans are now slight favorites to win the AFC South at +175 (1.75 to 1), followed by the Jacksonville Jaguars (+225), Tennessee Titans (+300), and the Colts (+400).
Now is the time to strike. Not only would adding Gordon significantly improve the team’s chances at a division title this year, but it could potentially do so for the next couple of years as well. Jacksonville doesn’t seem committed to the long-term as it is playing hardball with important players like Jalen Ramsey and Yannick Ngakoue, and both the Titans and Colts have serious question marks at quarterback.
Houston now has the best quarterback in the division in Deshaun Watson, who has two years left on his inexpensive rookie contract. Giving him a weapon on offense like Melvin Gordon to work with during these cost-controlled seasons would be a wise use of some of these unused salary cap dollars.