Melvin Gordon’s potential trade destinations

    With Melvin Gordon possibly on the trade market, which teams might be interested in the young running back?

    Unless you’ve been living under a rock – and even there, I’m pretty sure you can access Twitter – you have probably heard the big news coming out of southern California.

    Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon announced last week that he would not report to training camp and he will demand a trade unless he receives a new contract. According to his agent, Fletcher Smith, Gordon did not want to go this route. But because of the lack of progress in negotiations and the offers the Chargers made this offseason, they felt it necessary to voice their displeasure.

    Gordon wants his bag

    Gordon, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, wants to be paid like a top running back. Why? Well simple, he is one.

    Since 2016, Gordon ranks fourth in yards from scrimmage and tied for second in rushing touchdowns, per 247Sports’ Allan Bell. Last season, the former top 15 pick averaged 114.6 scrimmage yards per game and collected 14 touchdowns on his way to a Pro Bowl year.

    Gordon falls in a similar category below perhaps running backs Le’Veon Bell and Todd Gurley but probably in the same range as David Johnson. All three have been paid within the last season. To add to the list of running backs getting paid, both Devonta Freeman and Jerick McKinnon have received lucrative deals although dealing with injuries.

    To say the running back market isn’t as strong as once before is true – but it’s far from dead. Multiple teams would love to add someone with Gordon’s skills to their backfield as another offensive piece moving forward.

    Knowing the history of the Chargers and lack of negotiations, a trade is far more likely than an extension. Who are some teams that could use Gordon’s skills? Let’s dive in and find out.

    Buffalo Bills

    The Buffalo Bills took the Chicago Bears approach to build around potential franchise quarterback Josh Allen. The former top 10 selection now has a rebuilt offensive line, multiple weapons at his disposal and a top-ranked defense to create turnovers heading into year two

    The biggest hole heading into the season is the running back position. Sure, they are loaded with feature backs, but a majority of them are veterans looking for another season to add to their stats. LeSean McCoy (31) underwhelmed in 2018 while Frank Gore (36) had seen his best days long before he arrived up north.

    Younger options TJ Yeldon and Devin Singletary could provide something in the future, but neither are feature backs in the NFL and are better suited as second options. With the Bills wanting to contend in 2019, the addition of Gordon would give them a balanced running game to take the pressure off Allen early on. Throw in the fact Gordon is an every-down threat, and it makes sense these two would want to work out a deal.

    Chicago Bears

    The Bears had a standout running back in Jordan Howard last season. The biggest problem was he didn’t fit the style of offense Matt Nagy ran in the Windy City and was shipped off to Philadelphia for a sixth-round pick.

    Nagy likes multiple options out of the backfield instead of a primary runner. Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery balance each other as a speed back and power runner that both can succeed next season. While Cohen’s energetic style of play is fun to watch, there are questions about his size and if he can be an NFL feature back. Montgomery, on the other hand, still has yet to prove what he can do at the professional level.

    Chicago could be a dark horse landing spot for Gordon if the team wants to give Mitchell Trubisky another passing weapon. Not only did he rush for 885 yards last season, but Gordon also collected 50 receptions last year, averaging 9.8 yards per catch. With Trubisky still working on improving his mechanics, having a check down running back would be an excellent option.

    Last season, the Bears traded for Khalil Mack to bolster their defense. They gave up a King’s ransom but were better off for it. With Chicago needing an extra push to contend, perhaps a mid-round selection for a player with Gordon’s skills could get the job done.

    Houston Texans

    People seem to forget just how reliable Lamar Miller truly is. While far from an elite running back, the Houston Texans’ runner has been steady his entire career and finally received some love last season with a Pro Bowl nod.

    Miller is a productive back, but he’s also not a premier runner. With the Texans offense needing a boost to make up for a weak offensive line, the addition of Gordon would be a significant upgrade over Miller in multiple ways. Not only is the latter two years older, but both have averaged 4.3 yards per carry over the past three seasons. Entering a contract year, the Texans could cut ties with Miller and bring in Gordon for the long-haul.

    With the Texans offensive line in shambles, most of the work is going to rely on the running back in the open field. That advantage goes towards Gordon, who last season created 41 missed tackles. Miller is more of a downhill ground and pound guy instead of making defenders miss.

    Houston has the weapons to contend so long as Deshaun Watson gets the ball off in time. Miller is not going to be the option that turns Houston into a legitimate contender. Gordon, however, could be and the with the team’s future salary cap, they can pay him. It’s hard to imagine the Texans acquiring Gordon without a GM but if so, this is an ideal deal for all three parties involved.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers 

    You have to throw the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into the conversation even if you don’t believe they are in the running. With Bruce Arians taking over in Pewter, the Bucs could use a running back to help take the pressure off Jameis Winston similar to how Johnson took the pressure off Carson Palmer.

    Ronald Jones II could not have had a worse rookie season if he tried. Averaging just 1.9 yards per carry, there are concerns if he could be a feature back in the NFL despite a strong OTA period. Arians praised fellow runner Peyton Barber earlier this offseason, saying he’s a runner you “build around.”

    Sorry, Bruce, you know I love you, but Gordon is a runner you build around. Both runners could flourish in 2019 and become the future of the organization. More ideally, however, the team could add a premier runner and correct the problem.

    A perfect fit for Arians’ scheme, what would hold back Tampa Bay in acquiring Gordon is their cap space. As it currently stands, the Bucs only have $8.3 million available, far too low of a price than what Gordon is asking. Unlike other teams, the Bucs would need to cut and trade players rather than picks to pull off this deal.

    If Tampa believes they’re a contender with Winston under center, adding another weapon will be crucial. Jason Licht will need to clear some space, but Gordon indeed would become the top running back in the NFC South heading into the regular season.

    The Bucs haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2015. If Gordon was obtained in a deal, he’s likely their best chance of breaking that streak.

    Indianapolis Colts

    Several teams were considered for this final spot. While the Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers were in the running, only one roster had somewhat of a need and the ability to pay Gordon the contract he wants.

    The Indianapolis Colts were written off last season thanks to an underwhelming offensive line and the unknown status of Andrew Luck. Instead, the team allowed a season-low 18 sacks and Luck returned to MVP form. Now back in contention, the Colts only major hole on offense would be at the running back position.

    And it’s not even that big of an issue to tell you the truth.

    Marlon Mack shined in his second season, rushing for 908 yards and scoring 10 touchdowns. Nyheim Hines struggled at times but still managed to average 3.7 yards per carry during his rookie campaign. Both had solid numbers, but the addition of Gordon could make Indy the team to beat in the AFC.

    The biggest positive for the Colts would be their cap space. With over $45 million available, the Colts have the money to not only trade for Gordon but pay him once he arrives at Lucas Oil. Adding him alongside Mack could create the league’s best 1-2 combo in the NFL should the ladder continue to succeed.

    The Colts have money to spend and a chance to compete every season. While they’ll be fine without Gordon, what would stop Chris Ballard from at least making the call? It’s far fetched, but hey, when you have money to play with, anything is possible.

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