Melvin Gordon is set to enter free agency as his two-year contract with the Broncos has expired. Will Gordon return to the Broncos or find a new home for the 2022 season? Let’s make some predictions as to where Gordon will play this season.
Predictions for Melvin Gordon in 2022 NFL Free Agency
After his rookie contract was up, Gordon left the Chargers to join the Broncos in 2020. He signed a two-year deal worth $16 million. Gordon was a very consistent producer for the Broncos. He totaled 1,144 yards from scrimmage in his first season and 1,131 yards in his second.
At 29 years old, Gordon could have anywhere from 2-4 years remaining in his NFL career. On a more immediate basis, Gordon proved in 2021 that although he’s not quite the guy he was with the Chargers, he’s still a quality NFL running back that would make a useful addition to a backfield.
I can’t imagine Gordon commanding anything longer than a two-year deal. It’s possible he only gets one year. Something like David Johnson’s one-year, $5 million contract from the Texans prior to his age-30 season is a good barometer.
With running back landing spots drying up quickly, who might be signing Gordon when free agency begins?
The Broncos and Gordon are reported to have mutual interest in a reunion. Despite both sides feeling this way, the consensus among NFL reporters is that Gordon will be playing elsewhere in 2022.
Gordon still views himself as a primary back. He’s indicated he does not want to return to Denver just to back up Javonte Williams. Well, that’s exactly what he’d be doing if he re-signed with the Broncos.
After drafting Williams in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Broncos are set to deploy him as their starter. If Gordon does return, there will still be a role for him. However, he will likely be playing around 35-40% of the snaps as opposed to the 52% snap share he saw in 2021.
It’s still possible Gordon returns to Denver, but it would likely only happen after he explored other markets and came to the conclusion no one is willing to make him their primary back.
NFL reporters are quite confident that Cordarrelle Patterson is not returning to Atlanta. After the 2021 season, it’s also clear they need something better than Mike Davis.
The Falcons are no strangers to signing veteran running backs. Davis was 28 years old when they signed him. Todd Gurley was 26 years old with the knees of a 46-year-old.
This is a team with over $13 million in salary cap space available. They have no viable starting running back on the roster. And they can afford to pay Gordon as their feature back.
This move wouldn’t make sense for the Falcons if they’re going to rebuild, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. A one- or two-year deal for Gordon works for both sides. If the Falcons do decide to rebuild next year and move on from Matt Ryan, they’re not committed to Gordon long-term. At the same time, Gordon will have the option to sign with a contender if that’s something he’s interested in doing.
The Texans seem to love signing veteran journeyman running backs. I wouldn’t call Gordon a journeyman — he’s better than that — but he does profile as the type of back they like to sign.
In fact, signing Gordon would be eerily similar to their signing of Johnson in 2020. Gordon, like Johnson, was once one of the better running backs in the NFL. Now, he’s nearing the end of his career, but he’s not quite done yet.
Gordon is obviously not winning anything in Houston, so it depends on what his priorities are. If he does want to chase a Super Bowl, then Houston is off the table. If he wants to chase playing time, Houston makes a lot of sense.
The Texans have $9 million in salary cap space. They can afford to give Gordon $5-7 million for one season. Gordon can have another year in the spotlight as a main running back or chase a Super Bowl next year if he wants.