The other day, quarterback Philip Rivers stated that he supported Gordon, but that he had full confidence in the other running backs. Is Rivers’ right, or is Gordon’s holdout a huge loss for the team? Does this mean Rivers’ doesn’t support his teammate’s decision?
Why is Melvin Gordon Holding Out?
For many players, NFL careers are short. The rookie wage scale keeps salaries low for younger players. This means that players often have to wait four to five years until they can get a market-value contract.
In addition, the second contract often is the largest contract for a player. Many players are out of the league before they can sign a third long-term contract. Others have declining performance due to injuries or age. As a result, the second contract is really important for most players.
This is especially true for running backs. Due to the amount of punishment running backs take, they often have the shortest careers of NFL players. Many teams won’t pay big money for running backs over 30.
The situation with Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley makes teams even warier. Gurley recently received the highest running back contract in the league. Within a year, the Rams were forced to draft another running back for fears that Gurley had a degenerative knee injury.
Running backs have also lost value over the years. As teams throw the ball more, the importance of having a top running back goes down. As a result, running backs are trying to get their big payday as early as possible.
Melvin Gordon was a first-round pick, meaning he is under control for five years on a team-friendly contract. His next contract is probably his best chance for a big payday. To maximize his leverage, Gordon won’t show up to training camp. He is hoping that the Chargers will pay him to avoid hurting the team’s chances of contending this year.
Teammates discussing holdouts
Holdouts are a tricky subject for other players to discuss. Players want to support their teammates getting a huge contract. They also want to see salaries go up around the league. However, a player holding out may hurt the team’s chances of winning. In addition, the more money one teammate gets is theoretically less money another teammate can get.
To avoid problems, teammates typical do not discuss their teammates’ contract negotiations. Usually, when they discuss these issues, they try to stay out of it or support their teammate.
However, sometimes teammates will not support a teammate’s holdout. This summer, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield told running back Duke Johnson to join the team or “get out of the way.” Afterward, Mayfield was pulled aside by veteran teammates and told not to comment on Johnson’s holdout.
Phillip Rivers tried to be more diplomatic than Mayfield, but his comments appeared to criticize Gordon. It’s not surprising that Rivers might be upset with the holdout though.
Rivers is a fiery player who speaks his mind. He is also approaching the end of his career. He does not have the playoff success that his fellow draft classmates Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger have. The Chargers have a good team. Rivers appears to be worried that Gordon’s holdout will hurt their playoff chances.
How valuable is Melvin Gordon?
Melvin Gordon is a really important player for the Chargers. Last year, he only played 12 games, but made the Pro Bowl and looked like a dominant running back at times. While his backups Austin Ekeler and Josh Jackson have shown flashes of talent, they are unproven running backs.
Keeping Gordon ensures continuity from last year. One writer argued the Chargers, led by Gordon, had the best backfield last year. Losing Gordon would really hurt this team’s postseason’s chances.
A lengthy holdout would also cause a distraction. The Chargers would have to answer constant questions from the media and fans. In addition, the Chargers have to adjust their roster to handle Gordon’s absence.